Sunday, February 12, 2012

Arts, Crafts, and One Nervous Breakdown

D had the day off today, and we had a very snuggly, sunny Minnesota morning during which I had a very short complete breakdown that apparently nobody noticed.  Phew!

It was one of those deceptively sunny Minnesota mornings, where the brightness of the sunshine distracts you from the fact that this very sunshine is travelling into your home through bone shatteringly cold air.  Momentarily forgetting this reality, I stepped forward to place my hand against the windowpane, eager to feel the heat of the sun.  Instead I sear my hand on the freezing glass and my body shrank two inches into my skin as I entered that Frigid Zone that exists within 12 inches of the window in Minnesota in February.  I stopped myself mid-swear word and instead looked down at Lucy and say “be careful, Lucy, it’s very cold” as if I meant to do that as a demonstration to her.  Lucy has been watching me this whole time with a cool air of appraisal.  She looks up at me, eyes narrowed.  She is not fooled.

Freezing or not, the sunny morning once again inspired us to make some colored glass and bead picture frames and ornaments.  Lu and I had great success making a small picture frame filled with colored glass stones last week, and I thought we could experiment some more since we had a ton more glue, picture frames, stones, beads, etc.  And, since we had the right kind of glue now (the kind that dried in one day instead of seven, unlike the Christmas Ornament Debacle of 2011) I thought we could make some more window ornaments too.  This would be a great morning craft to do in the sunny living room while D studied for his in-service exam at the kitchen table.

In my sunny morning greatest mom every crafting haze I had conveniently forgotten a number of things.  All of these things pretty much fall under the category “Crafting Is My Stay-at-Home Mom Achilles Heel.”  I fear glue – it’s sticky, it oozes out from under shapes and molds, it adheres all sorts of things to little hands.  It’s hard for me to let go of control and let Lucy put stones, beads, glitter, etc where she wants them and in what color combination she wants them.  Because this means being ok with letting Lucy pour the greater part of the beads on the floor, into the cracks of the table, into the stone bins, and pretty much anywhere but onto the glue.  Which, when it comes down to it really doesn’t matter anyway, but at the time every single bead that bounces its way off the frame and onto the floor makes me feel like sometime is plucking out all of my hair follicle by follicle.

On top of that, in perhaps the stupidest objection I have to arts and crafts, it is hard for me to give up art direction to a toddler.  Because, well, despite the fact that every mommy blog I have ever read states that every art project made by a child is a shining example of learning and creativity infused with the holy light of playtime wonder, sometimes they are…ugly.  They lack a certain sense of aesthetic that develops when you lose your sense of childlike wonder in vast and random combinations of colors and shapes and textures and narrow your world down to a set of, seemingly random, aesthetic principles.

Let me be very up front with the fact that I am fully aware that this is my own issue that I bring to the craft table…well, the parenting table in general.  My very being cries out for me to exert control over the crafting situation for minor reasons in an effort to reduce clutter and mess and glue in Lucy’s hair.  I am also aware that in doing so, I stifle Lucy’s creativity and her instincts to explore the world through touch and taste and I create all sorts of arbitrary and probably unnecessary rules for her.

The battle is joined!
So this is the war that rages within me whenever I see a new craft posted on Play at Home Mom, admire the morning sunlight in the play are and decide to break out the glue again.  What ensues is almost a comical series of thoughts mostly played out in an inner monologue as Lucy very happily concentrates on the task at hand.  I try to restrict my outward comments to only those that will actually helpfully guide (“Let’s squeeze the glue over the picture frame or the cookie cutters, not over the floor”) and bite my tongue on those that are arbitrarily judgmental (“Ohhhh…that color glitter doesn’t really mesh with the scheme you have going Lu…”) or too controlling in general (“Why don’t I hold the beads and you can place them one at a time where you want them since you keep dropping them all over when you hold them.”).  The panicked “no no No NO NO more glue no more glue it’s everywhere already!” becomes a slightly shaky but calm “honey, I think we have enough glue in the picture frame to start adding stones and beads now!”  My control slips for a moment while Lucy is occupied pouring glitter into a star shaped cookie cutter I add a green stone or two to her picture frame to even out the color tones.
Almost dry.

In general, by the time I exclaim brightly “are you finished with beads and stones now or do you want to glue something else?  No, ok great craft time Lu let’s just put these up to dry and get you a snack!” I feel as though I have done a two hour Pilates session am my core is held together by pipe cleaners.

I lean against the kitchen counter, sweating with emotional effort, and catch my breath for a moment as I put the morning’s spoils of war on the counter to dry in the sun.  Lucy is coloring on her table, pausing every other minute to point out each color to D.  I take the moment’s respite to give myself a pep talk.  I am resolved to conquer the inner control freak that is wreaking havoc on craft time and my nerves.  More to the point, I am resolved that there will be a next craft time at all.  I come back into the dining room/play area to join the coloring play.

“So…” I ask Don hesitantly “that was kind of crazy huh?”

“What are you taking about?” He looks at me, confused.

“Well, I figured you noticed a lot of tension while we were making those crafts, since craft time is my Achilles heel.  I think I had a nervous breakdown stopping myself from taking over.”

“Seriously I didn’t notice anything.  It sounded like you were both having a lot of fun and you weren’t really controlling that I noticed.”

“Oh.  Well.  Inner monologue success then.” 

Spoils of war, up against the bay window.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this! This is only anonymous cuz I don't know how to make a profile in any of those groups! LOL Love from Aunt Cheri!!!