Thursday, November 09, 2006

I Think We're Gonna Be Alright This Time

Zoë has never been much of a toy kid. She was the first grandkid on both sides of our family (now she's only joined by her brother Ike) so she was spoiled rotten with toys. But it never seemed like she really played with her toys. Instead of a player, she's a maker. She loves projects of all kinds. In fact, "project" was one of her earliest words. She likes to build forts out of sheets, concoct all kinds of crazy hammocks with string and laundry bags (these never work, by the way) and she especially likes art projects. Drawing is great, but painting is the greatest.

But I HATE letting her paint. It always turns into such a terrible ordeal. First there's the setting up--plastic garbage bags covering every surface, plenty of wet wipes, water, paper towels, a nice thick stack of paper. And squeezing out the paint is always such a nightmare. Zoë is a very particular person. The colors had to be in just the right spots on the paper plate, there had to be just the right amount of paint in each little blob, and of course, she always wanted to squeeze it out herself, which doesn't work, let me tell you. We quite often had tears and shrieks during the set up, before she even started painting.

Then there's during the painting. She always gets so frustrated by her limited toddler capabilities. She wanted to paint something much nicer that what her little hands were capable of. So she'd turn into hysterics and inevitable throw down the paintbrush, mix all the colors together with her hands, and wipe out all of her finished paintings in a muddy orange inferno of fingerpainting rage. Clean up was always rotten too. Dried paint everywhere, drips and blotches and handprints all over the place.

So I avoid painting. It's something that she and I don't do that often. But it's a particularly good bribe--a bribe that I used yesterday. It worked, we accomplished our goal yesterday and I conveniently let the time, "slip away from me." All too soon it was bedtime and we hadn't painted. I assured her that we'd do it today. Then today I put it off as long as I could. Finally while I was making dinner I could put it off no longer. I set her up, expecting the worst.

But you know what? It was great. I think she's taken some kind of major life turn. She painted carefully and happily for an hour. She gently and thoroughly washed her brush between colors, reminded me to change out the water each time it go too gray, and she came up with several great paintings that she's really proud of. And the best part is, when she decided she was finished, she cleaned it all up by herself. No kidding, clean brush, empty water cup, tossed paper plate and paper towels. It was the least hands on project I've ever had with her--and the most successful.

I think we're gonna be alright. I think she and I are going to get along so much better now. I think I might let her paint more often. I think she's wonderful.

1 comment:

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