Last week both kids went to their first art class. Super close to the house – walking distance, in fact – and totally affordable, I left there excited about their new artful ways and also about the new phase they are heading into.
This phase of discovery and experimenting where we begin to see what our kids emerge at and what they enjoy – beyond just the toys they choose to play with – is so exciting. They’re becoming real people – small, real people with open, courageous hearts and strong voices. (Really strong voices, sometimes, that scream and stomp but, I digress.) It’s like looking into a tiny hole of the future and starting to see what they might become.
But back to art class.
Run by a former teacher at Husband’s school, she goes by Ms. Nice. She’s a free spirit, eclectically so. She posts things on Facebook like, “It’s all about the Dream,” and has a turtle in the art space appropriately named Pablo Picasso. She makes dreamcatchers easier than I make a cup of coffee and wears harem pants and flowy tops. She’s exactly the kind of big dreaming, soul-seeking person I want teaching my kids at her art school, Creatividad en Pote.
The space was cozy and alive with energy. I joked during the first rainy morning class that if I had just remembered to bring a cup of my Pumpkin Pie coffee, I would have been in heaven. It was so inviting that I am secretly hoping she’ll start an adult class. Hmmm…. not a bad idea.
While Ms. Nice set up, she encouraged the kids to grab a piece of paper and a cup of crayons, markers or colored pencils and draw while The White Stripes’ We are Gonna be Friends played in the background like a happy scene from a coming of age movie. Next, was the instructed activity: bumblebees. Since it was a class for 2-4 year olds (she also offers an older kid class in the afternoons), she walked them through the appropriate way to hold scissors and the dangers that could come from misusing them. Then, she took out the glue sticks. I could only imagine how wide-eyed my kids were to be using scissors and glue sticks, both tools that have been off-limits at home since… well, forever.
Santiago was certainly less focused than Rafa – that was to be expected – but he sat next to Ms. Nice and created his bumblebee (slow but steady), complete with eyes in the middle of its body. Abdomen eyeballs. Rafaella was more purposeful, making sure to show Ms. Nice everything she was up to with a montage of look-at-what-I-did.
The group then took to the corner where they played with a box of parts that looked liked the old game, Mousetrap – building and connecting – before working on a free time project. Santiago took little pieces of paper, folding them and flying them, showing them to Ms. Nice, “Mira. Un avión.” He showed her so many planes that she helped him glue some foam pieces together to make a “real” one. Then they read a book. Maybe she drugged them when we weren’t looking or maybe there’s a hypnotic tranquilizer juice in her A/C system but she had four 2-4-year-olds, quietly and contently listening to a story. Nothing short of amazing.
As an adult, I loved it too. It helped me to practice something I need a lot of work on: chilling the eff out when it comes to perfection. There is nothing like a kid’s art class to help you take a step back from control. I want them to explore their own hands and creative minds without me controlling where the bee’s antennas should go, so when Santiago wanted to place the bee’s eyes in the center of its body, I let him – it drove me a little cray-cray for a minute but I let him. I breathed in, reminded myself that that was his bee to create as he wanted to, and breathed out. This bee would have tummy eyeballs and that was ok.