I'm going to art class today!
(with a bunch of 6 year old's)
I'm positively thrilled to be back helping out in the school art room after a 3 year G-induced hiatus. I worked for years volunteering in N and M's art classes. We had to stop participating when G began pulling paints, paintbrushes and paintrush-cleaning water cups, chalk, and other fine messes onto his lap or the floor. From his stroller. In the middle of the aisle. He'd work at scooting/pulling his stroller over to a table and go from there.
Quick as a flash.
Before that at 2, he was harmless entertainment. The students loved to give him items simply to watch him throw them across the room, cracking himself up. Tirelessly, over and over. The art teacher was so incredibly patient. Thank goodness G was adorable with his blonde ringlets. Those little curls saved us from being booted out of the art room, saved my sanity and let me get some creative input. Saved by the curls.
After that, I became Craft Mama for a few mom's clubs I was in. My thinking was that if I involved G, he'd remain engaged. My kids would make examples of the crafts the day before our craft days, and I had notions that he'd help me get needed supplies together. We all know how that went as an undiagnosed, untreated ADHD autistic kiddo. He'd run all over the facility, out into the parking lot, the road, etc. I had to get assistants to take turns watching him and helping the children in the group. I could count on a few minutes at the snack table, as he'd shove 14 cookies, 3 helpings of pretzels, 76 goldfish and 3 juice boxes down. And a banana that he stole from a baby's hands. That was about it. I began bringing games and activities to craft days, hoping he'd play instead. Nope, that sensory beast of burden wouldn't let him relax, engage. It was fight or flight all the way, which led to my feelings of the same afterwards. Most afternoons I'd cry on the way home and pray that just once, he'd take a nap and let me have a break after we got home. Never happened.
I'm thrilled to report that after diagnosis and treatment, G occasionally gets a strong focus (oh, that beautiful word: f-o-c-u-s) on creativity. He draws from memory quite well. I was blown away when at 5, he drew items in a plan view, all sides of an object laid out in a flat drawing. Think fold-up box on a piece of cardstock, a template...
Obviously not this detailed and no fold lines, but he'd draw all sides of an object, house, car, toy, etc. So interesting!
Now he's in his first school art class. I get to help with his 1st grade class - all year - how cool is that?
Kids often get uptight when their project isn't exactly like the teacher's example.
"I messed up!"
"I can't do it"
"Mine doesn't look like that at all!"
"I want to do it over!"
This isn't working!"
I guided mostly; helped if it was truly needed, especially in technique; or if there were tears, tantrums.
my favorite message to relay to children about art is:
"There are no mistakes in art. It's all beautiful." I assure with a smile.
This probably doesn't fit with the elementary curriculum, but it's true. I haven't been fired for sharing this doctrine, and I was invited back, so... you do the math. Or the art, rather.
In the professional creative world, they're often called "happy mistakes". Often the coolest visuals are unintended, mistakes.
Not fussy, contrived or over-thought.
Just as in life, there are few mistakes that can't be fixed. Many don't need fixing. The path we follow is full of bumps and drips, and squiggles that take us right to the place we need to be.
Original, unique, perfect for us.
I'm getting a little lofty for 1st grade art class now, aren't I? I'd better tone it down.
Should I skip the beret?