Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Magic Wands and Crafts with Toddlers

I absolutely love doing craft projects. My favorite craft is knitting and that’s where I invest most of my craft time and where I have developed the most skill. But I have dabbled in scrapbooking, small quilting projects, beaded jewelry and other crafts over the years. I’m the kind of person who happily walks the aisles of A.C. Moore or Michael’s or JoAnn’s looking at all the potential projects and dreaming of having infinite time and money to spend on crafts. There is just such a rush when I am able to create something beautiful, particularly if it is also useful. For me, one of the exciting aspects of having a child was the prospect of doing kid crafts again. I have been waiting, more or less patiently, since my daughter was born for her to be capable of doing craft projects with me. Tonight I took the plunge and we had our first mother daughter craft night.

There were several things that inspired me to move ahead with doing craft projects. Lately my daughter has been into painting with watercolors, which she does during the day with my husband. She’s having a blast with that, according to him, and I’ve been fairly jealous. Although some of the jealousy was soothed by being the recipient of a new masterpiece for my wall at work. Several friends have told me about projects with their kids that went well which was encouraging. Finally, my daughter lost her magic wand. As I have mentioned before, her favorite Sesame Street character is Abby, a young fairy godmother in training who uses a wand to “twinkle think.” My daughter had a pumpkin flashlight that she had designated as a wand and which she would put to her temple and announce “I need to twinkle think.” Sadly, pumpkin wand has gone missing sometime over the past week, apparently lost somewhere in the no mans land between the house the playground and daycare. It has been missed by my daughter several times, and although we’ve been able to distract her I wanted to obtain a replacement wand before we have the total meltdown.

My initial thought was that I would cut out a wand shape (stick with a star) from cardboard and cover it with aluminum foil for her. However, I realized I didn’t have any boxes around that I was willing to cut up. I also thought it would be more fun to make a wand with my daughter. So off to Michael’s we went. I found a package of popsicle sticks and another package of cut out wood shapes – stars and hearts and diamonds. I found glitter glue and gem stickers and foam stickers and we were in business. Tonight after dinner I put down the large plastic tablecloth we use for messy activities, brought out the art supplies, and we went at it for 45 minutes before bedtime. I think between us we decorated about 10 wands and most importantly we had fun.

As an adult, I’ve learned I need to hold myself in check when doing activities with my two and a half year old daughter. It’s hard sometimes because I have distinct ideas about how things should be done. I have to sit on and squelch the part of me that wants things done “right.” Yes, my toddler squeezes the glitter glue in big clumps all over the wands so that it won’t dry. Yes, she peels the stickers off and sticks them on until they lose their stickiness. Yes, we have to negotiate sharing the glitter glue and gem stickers. Yes, she has more fun sticking the stickers on her own hands (and mine) than on the wands. Yes, she makes a huge mess. And that’s all okay.

I remind myself of several things. Everything washes; kid, clothes, floor, tablecloth and Mommy. I’ve learned to only buy washable craft supplies. Messes can be fun sometimes if you aren’t tense about them. Sharing with Mommy is good practice for sharing with other people. It’s arts and crafts, so there really isn’t any such thing as “right” anyhow. It’s not necessary or even important to have a beautifully decorated magic wand. (Although, I confess, I did make a few wands that I thought looked nice because I played with the art supplies a little on my own last night. My reasoning was that I would pre-glue some shapes and also get a feel for how the glitter pens worked. Uh-huh. Yep. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

The most important thing this evening is that we had great time together, so that this will be the first of many mother daughter craft nights. The most important thing is that we will have great memories of doing something really fun together. So this evening I sat back, played with glitter glue (the best part of the supplies in both of our opinions) and made art with my two and a half year old daughter. That's the real magic in my book.