Friday, December 5, 2014

"this is a camel", AKA picking up the dropped balls.

I love how sometimes you get that feeling of, like, "I think I'm pretty on top of things right now!" And then you are forcefully reminded that, nope. No, you're not. You are on top of SOME things, but never ALL the things. Despite all the articles out there asserting that "alive and fed" is sufficient when it comes to raising children - and despite my own beliefs in "good-enough" parenting - it's hard to feel like you haven't dropped the ball in at least a few places. For me, it happened yesterday.

I think we've done a good job when it comes to Rowan having a well-rounded routine. We've done music and baby sign language classes. We go to play groups, cousin play dates, swimming, bounce houses, library story times, playgrounds, and the children's museum (...science museum. Not a museum OF children). We play outside every day, we dance every day, she has structured play time and free play time, and the only screen time she gets is watching videos of herself on our phones (oh, crap, I'm THAT anti-screen-time parent).

Steam tornado at the children's museum.
Or, totally creepy horror-movie opening shot.

BUT. Then I remember...other stuff. Stuff that got lost in a fog of the stuff I DID remember. Stuff like...sippy cups, which I introduced too late in the game, so she hates them now and will use bottles until she's twelve. Stuff like baby-sitters other than Gramma, which I avoid because Rowan has such hardcore stranger anxiety. Stuff like home-cooked meals that go beyond cheesy quinoa or veggie burgers. Stuff like camels. Today we we saw a picture of one, and I'm pretty sure she heard the word "camel" for the first time, and I thought, shit. I FORGOT TO TELL HER ABOUT CAMELS. What else am I forgetting?!

Maybe it's a perfectionist issue, but my guess is most parents feel like they've dropped the ball in at least a couple places. Facebook is a great showcase of what your friends remember to incorporate in their kids' lives, which is how I realized yesterday that one of the balls I dropped is art. I know that, hello, there are worse things that could happen, but - I mean, not only am I a former toddler teacher, but my major in undergrad was arts-focused (Arts & Ideas in the Humanities...we'll chat about what that means some other time) (hint: it means being thirty-four and not having a job or career to speak of) (side note: it also means taking too few math classes to calculate if you're actually thirty-four when you start typing that out and it seems too old to be true).

Ahem. Anyway. I think the reason I haven't done much art with Rowan is because it's so inconvenient. We don't have art materials, other than crayons (AKA "delicious, delicious wax for with to color on cupboards"). We also don't have a good spot to do art, since it's going to be messy. And - yeah, okay, the mess is a big deterrent. I have a new appreciation for the parents at my former work who were totally upfront about the fact that they loved having their children do the messy stuff - painting and play-dough and mud puddles - at our child care center, rather than at their houses. In my head, art should be like books - available everywhere, not just in a specific "book spot" or "art spot". But in reality? Screw that. Me and my white rug are not quite ready for a free-range painting toddler.

So I'm looking around now to find a good spot to set up an art center.* I need a space that's somewhere in between "we only paint in the high chair" and "SCISSORS FOR EVERYONE"...a designated place that's her size, already set up, and has materials stored nearby - within my reach, but not necessarily hers quite yet. 

Next to the pantry in the kitchen is my first choice, since there aren't any rugs nearby and it's centrally located (easy to keep an eye on her, even if I'm doing other things), but I'd need to find a place to store materials. 

Terrible picture - but where that blue bin of toys is = spot for a table?
Also, then I could hang her artwork on the wall there...

Second choice would be in the front room, which is now a play room anyway...but I don't want to be anal about the rug in there while Rowan is doing something messy. There's also nowhere to store materials in the play room that isn't out of her reach. Hmm...

We already have the little table & chairs in the corner under
the window...would just need to scoot it over. And, um, use it.

Going to do some more brainstorming before executing any plans. In the meantime, we headed over to a drop-in arts and crafts session at our local family center this morning, where Rowan painted a snowflake ornament. For two seconds. Before painting her tongue. And then abandoning the craft to hurl baby dolls down the slide. Still! ART!

Like her angsty look after completing her art project today?

*YES, I know I could just throw some markers and paper out occasionally and call it good. But (a) I always go overboard, (b) I love the idea of having a little "art center", (c) I get motivated by new spaces, and (d) that's probably what will happen on most days anyway. So hush.

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