Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My art lesson

Today I learned that I need a very long refresher course in the art of patience (and probably a time-out) and that Frances has the heart of a saint (that part I already knew!). 

It all started innocently enough.  We recently purchased an outside picnic table for the kids – for snack time, Play-Doh, finger paints, markers, glitter (big in our house right now) or anything that is too destructive to our already worn furniture. 

With a stay-at-home-day for Frances on the horizon this morning, the three of us ventured to Target to stock up on art supplies—watercolors, finger paints, new Play-Doh (last year’s ‘Doh was already grainy and hard) and sidewalk paints.  I am an admitted art amateur, but I was determined to have fun with it all.  The watercolors and finger paints were a big hit with everyone…

…and I was smugly patting myself on the back for being such a creative mother and comfortable with the fact that the children were filthy, but it was all contained outside.  This is probably a good time to tell you that I am a clean freak, or as much of a clean freak as I can be with two children and two dogs.

Soon after the above pictures were taken, the children began arguing (of course they did – it was getting hot outside, they were sitting inches apart, lunchtime was fast approaching, and they were tired of “Art Hour”).  So, in and out and in and out of the house they came—“The wind keeps blowing the paper.”  “I stubbed my toe.”  “I want to paint more.”  “I’m done with paint.”  “George bit me.”  And what did I do?  I lost my patience with them.  Frances we are not doing this anymore if you two can’t get along.  Look at this mess.  You two are going to ruin my house and my furniture.  At which point Frances looks at me with big tears in her eyes and a quivering lip and asks, “But, this is our house, too, right?”  I felt about the size of one paint bristle.

So what did I learn?  I wish I could truthfully state that I learned I must ease up more on the messes in and out of the house; that I learned to go with the flow; that I learned there is more to life than a clean(ish) house.  But sadly, I’m not sure I have the ability to learn all of that – I at least know my limitations.  What I did learn was I am a better mother when all of us are more in our comfort zone.  So, maybe we should wait on the finger paints and watercolors for a time when Daddy is home and can help me keep them better contained.  Why should I push them (and me) to do things that are supposed to be “fun” when it’s only going to result in a grumpy mother and a tearful daughter (George not surprising was just fine through all of this – he just played with Max and the ball outside while Frances and I had our heart-to-heart). 

In essence, I learned that I still have a lot to learn.  And that my daughter is a great teacher.

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