I have a terrible Mom confession to make. I am the world's least fun mother when it comes to making messes. The thought of the clean-up involved keeps me from introducing my boy to a whole bunch of things I'm sure he would really, really enjoy.
When I see kids with finger paints, it makes me cringe. I would rather eat play dough than let a child play with in. And glitter? Just shoot me, okay?
I feel really awful about this. My friends Nicole and Kelsi are awesome moms in this department. They truly take to heart the value of creative expression for their little tots, and they don't seem to mind at all cleaning up after the hurricane-like messes left in the wake of children's art activities. I could not be more opposite to them in this way.
It's not that I don't value creative expression. In theory, I think it's a wonderful thing. But theory gets the mother of all cold shoulders when I imagine scraping paste out of my son's hair or explaining to my own Mom how streaks of blue marker came to adorn her newly-painted walls, light-colored carpet, hardwood floors, granite counter tops, or very handsome couches. Gah!
I've been wanting to work on this, though. I don't want to deprive my child of creative or developmental possibilities, and I most especially don't want to deprive him of fun, just because I can be a stick in the mud.
Gotta start *somewhere*
Today's New Activity: Playing with the Monkey, Playing with Markers
I know how totally unremarkable this probably sounds to other moms out there, but I'm telling you it's a big step for me. The other day, we were over at Nicole's and Chupi simply could not keep his hands off the hundreds of markers, crayons, pencils and pens to be found in various places around her living room (Nicole is an artist and former art teacher). While I liked the idea of his wanting to color, I just could not relax to let this happen.
Ok, this has a smidge bit to do with the fact that every now and then he still tries to eat the colors. And when I see that I want to dive on him as if he were on fire and put an end to it. Eating markers = not good for you. But to be honest, I'm more concerned with the potential marks on his mouth than any toxic shock possibilities. Sureya, on the other hand, had various colors all over her mouth when we got there and Nicole didn't even think twice of it. Rightly so, she just sees it as par for the toddler course, relaxes, and lets her little cutie enjoy as all munchkins should. I'm trying to take a page out of her playbook.
But sigh. I couldn't even let him go at it without first putting a bib on him. Is this practical or crazy? I mean, is it just too much that I'm afraid he'll ruin his clothes with marker stains? Because I really don't want to be one of those anal retentive freak moms who leaves her kid with a complex, fearing to even let a little popper of a fart loose. Pleeeaaasseee don't let me be one of those moms.
After putting the bib on him, I sat him on my lap so I could keep a close watch on any stray marks that might mar the counter tops, and also so I could pick up the markers that kept rolling off the counter before Juju the dog could swipe them and take them to her little humper's lair (which she still managed to pull off once).
Monkey had a lot of fun sampling all the color choices, and even more fun, I think, playing with pulling off and putting back on the marker tops. Look, look, I let him get his hands all marked up at least. I think that should count for something as a starting point.
I'm not sure I'll ever manage to be the cool art project mom that Nicole and Kelsi are. It would take a lot of core changing for me to pull off even a shade of that kind of letting go. But I want to try and keep in mind how much fun the monkey has when he is allowed to create. He did NOT want to get down from the stool or even let those markers out of his sight tonight when it was time for dinner. I know there's a happy medium place I can find wherein the baby's allowed to enjoy and express himself through arty stuff, but not allowed to just go nuts and ruin things. It doesn't have to be one or the other.
I'm getting there. Just please nobody give him anything involving glitter or sand art just yet. You know...baby steps...