One thing I always do with the girls is make sure that they have lots of art supplies readily available. I think it shocks people (and drives Evan crazy) – but I let them have paint, markers, pens, colored pencils – and lots of paper – all out in the open. Yes, sometimes the walls get drawn on – and paint spills on the floor – but I’m fine with it. I love it, actually. I feel like it’s their house as much as it is mine – and I want to foster their love of creativity.
It’s not about the picture they make at the end – it’s about the joy they have creating.
Last week, Ellie (3) got a little exuberant with her painting and spilled some acrylic on a table. Evan found the mess, and he was a little irked about it. Ellie knew he was upset and said:
But I’m an artist! How am I supposed to be an artist if I can’t paint? I’m just trying to be an artist, Daddy.
I know there’s a balance to it all – you can’t just let your house be over-run. But I like to err on the side of creativity, and let the messes happen, and also teach cleaning up after yourself. You can’t let a little mess stand in the way of a lot of fun. 🙂
Artist Ellie on the front porch drawing with chalk:
Speaking of big messes, Violet (6) and Ginger (8) created a giant “dolly” amusement park in Violet’s bedroom. They spent days constructing it with blocks, creating the characters, and making all the signs for the rides and stores. All the signs were in English, Spanish, and Denga…the “doll language” they made up. The girls have been learning Spanish and French using Mango languages (it’s like Rosetta Stone, but it’s available free from the library). They also got some Spanish help from Siri on the iPad. 🙂
You can see the long line of dolls waiting to get in the park, right before the Grand Opening:
One of the cafe/restaurants at Dolly Land:
The front door greeter – I love her apron:
Ginger reading a cookbook and getting ready to make one of her epic messes – I mean, one of her epic cooking creations. She has become quite a baker – and I think that’s because I let her have fun with it and try not to interfere too much.
At the park last week – I know Ellie wears this dress A LOT – but it’s basically the only thing she likes to wear. I wash it 3-4 times/week. I let the girls pick out whatever they want to wear – and it makes them happy. Happy kids equals happy mom. 🙂
When I asked Ellie why she only likes this dress, she said:
Because I am a big, strong tiger, and I like to wear my tiger dress! Grrrr!
(I think it’s actually a leopard print – but I’m not going to tell her that! I am just glad she’s willing to wear something – ha!)
Paprika at the park:
Ginger and Violet at a different park – same day, two parks!
After a full day of playing outside and a trip to the comic book store, Evan took the girls to Baskin Robbins for ice cream. It’s the only place that sells Gold Medal Ribbon, Violet’s favorite ice cream flavor.
Evan and Paprika at the movies – Evan loves video games, so he got picked to go see Ready Player One with Paprika. I love seeing Paprika look so happy. She’d been looking forward to seeing it for months.
Paprika and I have been having so much fun together. We often go on walks together when Evan’s home, just the two of us – and it’s a highlight of both our evenings. One big change that happened recently is that Paprika no longer has access to an iPad. Basically, we noticed that using the tablet on a regular basis greatly exacerbated her inability to focus, mostly on school work – and her attitude was reactive, moody, and very hard to handle. Since she has Asperger’s/High Functioning Autism – we are always looking for ways to help her regulate her mood, etc.
She was having incredible difficulties with math, and she was having a lot of trouble in piano and violin. There were days when she’d been using the iPad when she couldn’t remember piano notes she learned when she was six years old! Her piano teacher was so frustrated. It honestly felt like she was unable to learn or focus at all.
We decided to experiment by taking away the iPad. It was very hard for her – she loved her iPad, and often used it to listen to music with headphones. She would create a very immersive experience with her tablet, one that separated her from the rest of the world for long periods of time. We felt like she was slipping away from us.
At violin lesson:
But almost immediately (within a day or two) of removing access to the iPad, we saw her old personality re-emerge, and she became a delight to be around again. She is so much happier. She started reading more (paper) books in her spare time, interacting with others socially, her cheery attitude resurfaced, she became much more helpful around the house, and her learning difficulties disappeared for the most part. Not just math/music – all of her school subjects improved effortlessly. It was honestly like a miracle – which sounds so weird to say. But, I’m being serious. I went from wondering: How is this child going to grow up and function in society? to witnessing her flourish in ways I couldn’t have imagined a few months ago.
We went through something similar when she was a toddler – which is why we got rid of our television for nine years. We recently got a television again, but the kids have limited access – it’s not in the living room, and it’s basically for family viewing of documentaries/special shows.
Losing the iPad was hard for Paprika, especially because her sisters are keeping theirs for now. Her sisters barely use their tablets, and they don’t get sucked in like Paprika does. The only things on the iPads are educational apps, music, and reading programs. That’s all that Paprika had on her iPad, as well!
We even tried restricting Paprika’s iPad use to certain times of day: after schoolwork was done, for a short amount of time, etc. But any amount of time on the iPad affected her behavior in a sizeable, negative way – and I don’t fault her for it. We’re all wired differently – and we all have our struggles.
It reminded me of this rose bush we have outside our house. It is a white rose bush – but we have ONE pink rose. Sometimes you have to notice the things that make you different and nurture those qualities to be successful, even when it’s uncomfortable or it doesn’t seem fair.
That’s all for today. 🙂