Monday, November 11, 2013

crafty crafty

I've been thinking that I need to do more arts and crafts with my toddler. Every week at her French class we do a craft, and it's usually the most frustrating part of the class for me. We're not actually learning any French at that point, I'm just trying to keep Pippa from getting marker on her clothes (why markers, Madame??? why not crayons?) and from destroying the craft before it's done. All she wants to do is scribble, and if stickers of any kind are involved, she immediately wants to rip them off, put them on again, and rip them off again, and for stickers that usually doesn't even last one time. Then she wants me to "fix it".  Sorry kid, I can't.

My parents saved some art/crafts from when I was young and I always thought they were kind of ugly and dumb. I thought that would magically change when I had my own kids but no, I still think 95% of toddler "art" or "crafts" are ugly and dumb. Even when it's created by my kid. Especially because really it was created by me, while attempting to keep my child from eating a glue stick.

But I put it up on the fridge anyway.

Mostly because otherwise she destroys them. I didn't get last week's craft (a coloring page of a fruit bowl, with the fruits labeled in French, mounted on construction paper) up on the fridge in time, and she destroyed it while trying to demount it. Taking things apart is what she wants to do all the time.

 The other two- to three-year-olds in the class exhibit a spectrum of craft behavior, from the little girl who sits there passively while her mother creates an immaculate, Martha Stewart Living type craft, to the exuberant Picasso type who is actually into this whole craft business, to more moderate scribblers. But all of them at least sit more nicely than she does (even the ones who are as energetic as she is otherwise).

It occurs to me (with a sinking feeling) that maybe we ought to do more crafts in order to develop the sitting still and concentrating skills that I've been waiting to exist in order to make craft-making enjoyable. But of course, enjoyable for who? For me, that's who. I don't like doing crafts with her right now; it's messy, it costs money, the finished product is pointless. I want to make crafts with her to give as gifts, but I know that it would be very frustrating to try to make something like a footprint penguin or whatever, because she would stamp all over the paper, or wiggle her foot, or say "I want to do it!" and grab for the marker just as I'm writing "Merry Christmas", and the finished product would look like Martha Stewart Dying.

But the rainy season is here in Vancouver. While I try to get out even in the rain, sometimes it just isn't possible. Maybe I should be using that time to get her involved in some art.

She will enjoy it, right? I know she does. And maybe slowly that will help her learn that craft time is when we sit nicely and create.

Maybe eventually nicely enough that mommy can use the bathroom in peace.

"It's Daddy!" "My, you have done a good job there of capturing your father's basic existential angst. Well done, child."


  1. I've learned that Sly is just not going to be "good" at crafts for a long time, and to be ok with it. He really enjoys what he calls "crafts", but he'd prefer if I basically made the whole thing for him (because he doesn't have the skills to make anything that actually looks like anything, and he knows it). He enjoys when our crafts turn out to actually look like something, but these ones involve a lot of my time. Like making hand turkeys for Thanksgiving. I trace Sly's hand, cut it out for him, and then help him glue things on. So most of the time when he asks to do a craft, I just pull out our supplies, and let him do what he wants. Sometimes I give him one piece of scrap paper (Tom brings them home from the recycle bin at work) and one sheet of stickers, and let him do his thing. Or I give him some stencils and a few sheets of paper. Or a string with a small bowl of beads. Or a pair of kid scissors and paper. In these cases, there's no real finished product to speak of. Most of them get put away or thrown away soon after, and he doesn't mind. I think of it more as practice, and something that keeps him busy and happy.

    Messy stuff like markers or paint only come out if I'm in the mood for a highly supervised craft, which is probably once a month or less!

    Craft stuff doesn't need to be expensive. We find all of ours at thrift stores, dollar stores, or the clearance bin at craft stores. I like things that are reusable (beads, clay, lacing cards, etc.) or that I can dole out in small amounts.

  2. You inspired me to write more about this:

    Pippa sounds high-energy, but she'll probably get more interested in concentrating on crafting as she grows.