Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alternative art

Fingerpainting might just be the bane of my existence.

Most projects that can hold my toddler's attention for longer than a nanosecond are a welcome blessing. I relish any opporunity to engage Madelyn in a purposeful activity where I feel that her mind and/or motor skills can develop. But I am often more selfish than a mother probably ought to be, because the most appealing aspect of such activities is the collateral benefit allowing me a few minutes to work through my to-do list, make dinner, or read a book.

But fingerpainting, for a two-year-old at least, demands among the highest levels of parental attention and focus. We go outside. We put on grubby clothes (or not, see photo). The paint is washable. Yet I still can't bring myself to leave her alone because the moment she loses interest in her paper canvas, the patio chair or Hardiplank siding might become her next work of art realize the need to intervene. Maybe when boredom sets in, she'll simply come and find me, but how many painty fingerprints might ardorn my walls by the time I hear that she's come inside? In such cases, the free time afforded by the project is swiftly cancelled out by its disastrous consequences.

Also, Madelyn has a hard time squeezing the paint out of the tubes, but of course is determined to do it by herself. I believe in allowing children opportunities to try the tasks that challenge them in order to improve, as long as I'm not particular about the outcome and no danger is imminent. Those circumstances apply here, but when Madelyn finally gets paint out, it splooges half of the bottle onto the paper and it really bugs me. So then my control freak side and my patient, loving mother side endure an internal struggle.

Then there's the fact that Madelyn doesn't really "get" fingerpainting. And that it takes about as much time to clean up as it does to complete a dozen works of art. Oh, and having to set the papers out to dry all over my kitchen table because it's too windy outside and the paint takes forever to dry since Madelyn doesn't "get" fingerpainting and all the globs stay in pretty much globular thickness and therefore need a couple of days under the heat of a thousand suns to solidify.

So, when the daily inquisition regarding the possibility of getting out the fingerpaints recently ensued, I brilliantly fashioned the perfect alternative.

One white plate.
One bristled basting brush.
Two colors of applesauce in wide-mouthed cups.

This painting project satisfied Madelyn's artistic cravings longer than fingerpainting ever has. The novelty of it was surely exciting, plus the fact that she was able to literally enjoy the fruits of her talent (being apparently unable help herself from eating Play-Doh, this is a natural progression). The kitchen table is just a stone's throw from my workspace, and the inherent risks of fingerpaint just aren't present with this new medium. I diligently worked nearby, delightfully attuned to the sounds of a happy toddler, not only expertly painting but essentially licking up her own mess as well.

3 comments:

Amani said...

just don't get tooooooo comfortable. hehe applesauce is edible but it's also sugary.... though i guess by madelyn's age you're probably quite used to sticky type messes...

Sarah Rose Evans said...

brilliant! we'll have to try it.

barb said...

you're always one step ahead. nice thinkin'. :)

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