The case for Displaying Imperfection in the Living Room. Yes, even your child’s art.
Last week I enjoyed having a man-cold. And by man-cold I mean, ermahgerd-snot-can’t-breath-is-this-sinus-cancer cold and by enjoy, I mean laid in bed trying to remove mucous from my nose with the infant snot-sucker thing. I whined and reclined, a lot. Which, when that other parent’s home is fine, and less fine the rest of the time. Not-sick-Elliot became independently motivated and, um, created things. Like this Halloween ghost I found taped by the front door in my living room.
Since he started the morning of October 1st with, “where are the decorations? It’s HALLOWEEN MONTH Y’ALL” I’m not surprised to find evidence of his enthusiasm. Not surprised, and frankly quite pleased. I like holidays, sure, but I don’t drag all of this festivity out for myself. Nope.
Okay, maybe a few for myself. For example, my window eyeballs.
And fine, I’m the one that taped the place mat on the bearded dragon cage.
Some of these have become tradition. Like the milk-jug, curtain-sheer ghost that hangs by the front door. I never intended for this to be permanent, but here you go. This isn’t really my holiday, ya know?
I never intended to hang skeletons in the shrubbery. Have you noticed how very little children care about adult intentions?
Coloring pages decorate random spots all over my house. Kids with access to both tape and push pins, and a mother that thinks children should see their art all over the place.
Come on– you know you like the polished pinterest (or more accurately– what Martha’s been doing for a really long time)?
Sure, theoretically. I mean, I like to look at other people’s pinable houses, but that level of effort (both in the doing and the maintaining) just isn’t compatible with my life. Or my parenting style.
In the way I’ve come about each Really Important Life Lesson, I first needed an epic fail.
It’s October 2011, and the boys and I are unpacking the Halloween decoration bin. When I pull out Zach’s Halloween chain from the previous year I flinch, and glance over in time to see his smile wilt. We stand there, both staring at this orange and black construction paper chain, remembering how frustrated we had been that day. Him trying to cut and staple–for the first time– and me blisteringly impatient with the sloppiness of his scissor work, his careless stapling.
He was three (one month to four), but he was three at the time. Three. And I was angry with him for not trying hard enough. I remember snapping at him, “you’re not even trying to make it look nice!” More importantly, I absolutely remember the look on his face.
He. Was. Three. And I was old enough to not be that invested in the outcome of construction paper.
But there it is, every October when I pull out this chain (last year he added a small one, I’m going to repeat that this year), I’m reminded that constant criticism of children murders their creativity. Kills their self-confidence. Might ruin a future artist’s dream.
The artistic plane, unlike the dinner table, is an amazingly easy place to praise and support your child. Really. Stupidly. Simple.
And this is why you will find an odd piece of what might first assume is trash accidentally stuck to the door. Because that’s not trash at all– that, my friends, is Elliot’s reduce, reuse, recycle ghost.