Activity DesignerJami Milton
This is a story of taking a breath and letting your child take the lead--and seeing the surprising results that spontaneity may produce. Figuring you might have some paint and pumpkins in your house these days, we thought you might enjoy exploring these two ingredients on a whim, too!
How We Did It
It's just before bedtime and H asks me if he can paint his new pumpkin. My first impulse is to tell him he has to wait until tomorrow after school. But then I figure it'll only take a few minutes, so why not. I ask him how many colors he wants so I can pour them out of the paint containers. "Four. I want white, red, pink, and brown," he replies with certainty, as if he's been pondering his choices all evening.
I give him four brushes so he can keep his colors separate, but he immediately starts mixing the paint and I notice an impulse to stop him or guide him to at least not mix brown in with the other colors, since it'll muddy the pink and red. I resist and instead sit back while he creates a palette of several shades of pink and explains to me how white mixed with red makes pink, but brown makes everything brown. I smile, and watch him mix in the brown anyway.
H slathers his now pink pumpkin stem to bottom but just before coating it 100%, he looks up at me and asks if he can paint whiskers on his face like a cat. My knee jerk is to say, "no way!" and so I suggest that he finish painting his pumpkin instead.
Then, I take a beat, see there's no harm, remind myself the paint is washable, and tell him yes. He carefully dips the paintbrush to make sure it's really wet and runs it along his upper lip and cheek.
He then dashes to the bathroom mirror. I hear jubilant giggles. H quickly returns to paint on a beard, "dyes" his hair, paints his fingernails, and finally his forehead. OK, this time I stop him so he doesn't get paint in his eyes. His dad walks by the room at this point, looks over disapprovingly, and murmurs something about how close it is to bedtime. But I'm feeling pretty proud of what H has done in such a short time. What a great artistic moment this has turned out to be! H learns about blending colors, painting natural surfaces, and blurs the boundaries between the pumpkin and himself. And after a quick shower, he's off to sleep in a jiffy.