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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Not crafts

I have always been a rotten craft mom. Can't come up with one single idea for popsicle sticks and that fun foam stuff leaves me uninspired, but give me some beautiful colors of embroidery floss or warm,inviting wool to knit, a sewing machine and fabric, and I become a prolifically productive individual. The past two weeks have found us busy making a doll for my little guy's birthday, with my oldest daughter knitting and sewing him a wardrobe. I also spent two days inexpertly making him a pair of overalls out of a friend's old curtains. (I can knit better than I can sew.) He is the sweetest doll, and I think my two-year old could care less. What he is really into is playing shoot-my-big-brother and watch him fall over "dead", or reading a story with mama. He will pick him up once in awhile and call him "baby" but it does not look to be a deep, endearing sort of love, oh well.

My sweet little seven-year-old girl brought me a gift yesterday; a folded-up wad of paper. When I opened it, there was a thick, pink and yellow gunky sort of design. "I made it with glue stick glue and eraser parts." That's my kind of girl. I told her about the hours I spent as a child trying to perfect the art of painting with eraser shavings (they were all pink back then) mixed with glue; tactile art. I try to encourage them in all of their artistic endeavors, though it is sometimes hard to keep breathing normally when "art" equals really big mess. They use things like ink and pen (the pen is not the problematic part of the equation), sealing wax, play dough, beeswax for modeling, colored pencils (ah, colored pencils, such a nice, clean medium!) yarn, wool potholder loops, fishing line (not cool), paint, they love paint, and real clay...I've hidden that one in the cupboard.

I had a long talk (rather a one-sided talk, since I did all of it) with a friend yesterday about Tasha Tudor. When Tasha was asked to contribute to a book on her crafting, she indignantly retorted; "I don't do crafts!" This from a woman who grew her own plants for dying her wool, split her own branches for weaving baskets and wove her own cloth for the 1830's clothes she loved so. No, she didn't "do crafts" but her life was one long creative endeavor.

What I hope to instill in my children is not a series of recipes for learning, making or doing (except perhaps for mathematical formulas and my recipe for chocolate chip scones), but a love for fine materials, for color, for taste and for living in harmony with the world around them.

Yes, in Waldorf education, this translates to teaching by example; seeing me knit, garden, sew and cook, they learn that this is a normal part of life. Painting and drawing are a mix of seeing my drawing and imitating it, painting with colors as we add them together, and free-style scribbling and finger-painting. There is a moment for each during the day. We have some instruction time and a whole lot of free time. This is not limiting as one would think. For a child to produce something of quality, be it art, writing or music, they need to have experienced quality first-hand. This does not, however, translate into coloring books and foam craft kits with pre-cut pieces (though we have been known to buy Klutz kits for things from beading to origami to snap-together animals; a dark environmental shame I will carry to the grave!) I know a few unschooling friends who will have lots to say on this topic...please feel free to leave comments, and have an artful day!

3 comments:

  1. Oh, this is a most beautiful post. You have armed your children with the things that really matter in life. You are truly a good mama. Your children will leave home knowing the important things, and most importantly how much you love your family. ♥

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  2. I felt extreme guilt a few days ago when I glanced up at all the wonderful craft books collecting dust on the shelf. I have so many! African crafts, nature crafts, summer crafts, etc. Even though we have not opened a single craft book yet, I realized that we do explore all of this but it is through our life experiences.

    Great post!

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  3. Thank you for your comments. I am not sure what my children will end up with, the most important though, I agree, will be the love I hope will always be with them.

    Nina; save guilt for sin, as someone most aptly put it! We loved your drumming circle the other day! Talk about original and moving for the children, thank you.

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