For this week's blog post - and stemming off my very own suggestion in last week's School Holiday post - I thought I would lose myself in Pinterest suggestions for toddler-friendly art projects with an Easter theme. Imagine my sheer joy and inspiration after stumbling on something as easy as potato printing. With a two-year old. Easy...right?
It all started out as planned. I carefully timed said project for after nap, had partner on photography duties and prepared the work station for the tiny artiste. Did I have all the bits and pieces?
Can anyone see where I went wrong? I'll give you a hint. It is not the potato, the paint or the paper. That's right, folks, it all went wrong with the talent.
Having failed the prior weeks attempt at a DIY play dough video for the Chekoh community, I was beside myself about what to do. I had a very loud, insistent internal dialogue shouting ideas at me:
Maybe I will just borrow someone else's kid?
Maybe I can just do it myself, but not perfectly, so it still looks legit?
Maybe I can hypnotise her so when I say 'chicken' she does what I ask?Maybe I can photoshop her actually doing it?"
Ok, so the last couple are a bit drastic, but it's amazing what nonsensical ideas run through your head when you are flustered. I regrouped, took a deep breath and actually stopped to look at my very busy, artistically-improvising child, and it was right in that moment, that I realised something. She was having a great time. The best time. She wasn't following directions or instructions or any kind of rule, she was going rogue, chucking a Miss Lippy, being one with the paint, complete with a big grin and a glance at mama to make sure I was watching. In that moment, she taught me it's okay to disregard rules and order.
All the beautiful colours moulded together to become...greenish grey? She painted that muddy-looking colour up her arms like it was nobody's business. With the intent of providing something useful, instructional and easy to follow for my readers, I failed. But in providing something tactile, interactive and messy, my independent, inquisitive child learned that blending all the colours together, loses their individual colour. That paint feels smooth and cool. That potatoes are hard when they are raw. That you can make handprints on paper when your hands are covered in paint, and it feels nice to rub them together and feel the paint between your fingers. Something so simple, yet full of wonder.
Rather than try again, in vain, to produce the intended, pastel-coloured egg-shaped print for Easter wrapping paper, I decided to showcase a side of motherhood - and toddlerhood - that may not be 'picture perfect', but is unapologetically real.
Having a (soon-to-be) two year old is hard. It is challenging, demanding, exhausting and requires oodles of patience, but given creative license and the permission to express themselves, these toddlers are learning so very much from the tiny details that we may find insignificant. Things that are imprinted firmly in our brains, about colour, texture and scent are a new and exciting experience for these young, impressionable children.
While failing to be a perfect Pinterest mum, I made the discovery that perfection isn't the experience we desire - it's the messy, unedited and raw moments in between - that make these undertakings so memorable and painted with emotion. I quickly went from frustration, impatience and worry to glee, amusement and nostalgia watching my child express herself, in the only way she knew how.
Don't sweat the small stuff, immerse yourself into these fleeting (and often frustrating) experiences and normalise the mayhem and disorder that is full-fledged toddlerhood.
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