I’ll need to go back and check but I think one of my new years resolutions was to do 10 craft projects this year. And I used to wonder in the back of my little head if I would ever get around to sewing that apron, or finishing that ornament kit that I started 3 years ago. And the answers to those questions are maybe, and probably not. But I think it is important to use your imagination and to be creative; it’s good for you. But is all the guilt about never doing any of the crafts on your list worth the benefit when you finally make something? And how do you find the time? I’ll tell you. You hang out with a four year old who has an idea for something he wants to make, and he wants to make it right now, so get started immediately.
I’m not sure how this started, but Jack frequently has a plan to make or do something impossible and for a while, my first instinct was to give him boring alternatives to what he wanted to do, or explain why his plan was impossible, but we could do something else fun instead. When he wanted to dig for dinosaur bones, I said, “You could look at some bones in a museum? Maybe in a month, when we have a free Saturday, I could take you?” LAME. Finally, I gave him a shovel and a patch of the yard and told him to dig for dinosaur bones. He was happy, and I realized my imagination needed a tune up.
Because I love the idea of crafts, I had gotten two Halloween craft books from the library, with no real plan or time for any of the crafts. But the night Luke left for camp, Jack was sad and he decided we were going to do some crafts. And we wanted to do them quickly. Since he doesn’t really have the ability to do a lot of the stuff, I have to be fast or he loses interest or becomes crabby. And the last thing I need is another unfinished craft/crabby child. But the speed part is the best part for me, because aside from my occasional lack of imagination, I also suffer from a little perfectionism, but crafting with Jack has cured that. The first thing we made was a Dracula soap dispenser, that dispenses soap that looks like blood, out of its teeth. I stopped the urge to do anything other than get this made as fast as possible and Jack was thrilled. I hope he wants to get rid of it now that Halloween is over.
We also made a paper chain ghost (Jack did the eyes), a sock puppet ghost, and a cool Frankenstein head out of a cereal box. The top of the head opens, and you can hide stuff in there. Jack drew the face on the Frankenstein, and as he was working on it, he said, “Wow, I sure am working hard aren’t I?”
So after that night, I felt like I had been put through the wringer, and I returned the craft books ASAP, having met my quota for the year. But I did learn something about parenting Jack; when he wants to build something, just start getting out supplies.
Dave, however, had not had that lesson. So the other night, when Jack said, “I need to build a robot, can I use your tools in the garage, Daddy?” He said yes. And you may think that’s because Dave is naturally more supportive and imaginative than I am, and that he didn’t need to learn any lessons, but the truth is that Dave just wasn’t really listening to the question. Jack said the robot was going to be able to set the table, eat Jack’s food for him, do homework, clean the house, and keep Jack company when he gets lonely. I said, “The homework machine, oh the homework machine..” which conjured the Shel Silverstein poem into everyone’s head and Jack realized he’d need something the size of a tank.
Well – Dave took the easy way out and offered to do the dishes while I helped build the robot. I gave Jack some metallic looking paper, popsicle sticks, tape, scissors and string, and it was half an hour of building before Jack wondered, “What how am I going to bring him to life?” I suggested maybe taking a picture would do it, if he used the flash. So he took 80 pictures of the robot and then it was time for bed.
As someone who likes to buy books about crafts, and art projects, and stock the supplies, but never has time, or energy for being creative, Jack is my perfect opposite. An I think it’s so fun and refreshing to start a project wondering, “how can I bring this to life?” instead of not starting something that you think will never work out.