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the not-horse post

March 24, 2012

be forewarned:

this is a grandparent post.

as said grandparent i have a career in early childhood education,

and therefore have invested a great deal of time and energy into child development theories.

what follows is a documentation of the crash course review of those theories

that i received last weekend.

as an educator, i find it intriguing to take an objective look at

children’s social and academic development.

as a parent of three now adult daughters,

i found it difficult to be objective but gave it my best shot.

as a grandparent, i’ll level with you:

it ain’t gonna happen.


it happens that J & A had a date night last saturday,

so the three kids were dropped off at auntie S’s house.

we did the obligatory trip to the playground at the neighborhood park,

but as darkness fell we had big plans.

a. wanted to paint.

we were all in favor of this.

so, we got the boys snuggled in on the couch with blankets and popcorn

to watch a movie with uncle JK.  (i know, i know.  but seriously, paint?!)

then came canvas selection.

a. wanted a BIG canvas.  the only one available had been started by sara and set aside.

that was ok.  a. was handed a pen to sketch with.

i must admit that at this point i expected her to be hesitant, perhaps unsure of where to begin.

this was not the case.

she had no hesitation, and commenced with her mark-making.

she was totally focused.

i was intrigued by her process, content to sit and watch.

with confidence and enthusiasm she added details of all kinds.

at teachable moments i asked questions and she discovered answers.

we talked about perspective, size, shape.

for over three hours, a., who just turned 7 last month, maintained clear focus.

at times i envied her confidence, the way she never doubted her skill.

i may be becoming more childlike as i age, but i have a long way to go.

*disclaimer:  i know i called this the “not-horse” post, but i DID NOT determine the content of her painting.*

a. was in the “flow” state, characterized by a suspended sense of time.

she displayed no anxiousness, no concern over the outcome.

there was only joy.  eagerness.  satisfaction.

each step of the way was so obvious to her.

she didn’t want directions, only periodic assistance.

for her, the delight was in the process.

inevitably, the movie in the living room ended and little brother l. came in.

first four words?  “i want to paint.”

so another canvas was found.

l. wanted to paint puss-in-boots, so we googled an image and got him set up with an iPad.

he did exactly what we try to teach children to do:  LOOK and draw.

l., who just turned 5 TODAY, was completely focused and self-motivated.

he decided when he was ready to trade pen for paintbrush.

l. was so serious, so absorbed in his task.

for about an hour he was unwavering.

as brushes were rinsed and old colors traded for new ones,

there was a spirit of camaraderie in the room that bordered on a mutual admiration society.

a. and l. had nothing but words of support for each other’s work.

we were in awe.

so of course #3 wandered in…  ” i want to paint.”

yet another canvas and easel were rounded up,

and little b., who turns 3 next month, set to work.

young picasso here did not need a sketch or other plan in order to begin.

he was immediately ready to apply paint to canvas.

apparently it is hereditary–  the concentration was intense.

with rapid brush strokes and boldness of color, an image began to appear.

here the adventurous artist experiments with other mark-making tools.

which made us realize that we had forgotten to outfit l. in a paint shirt.

we remembered in time.

shortly after this b. was finished.

we knew this not because he told us, but because furniture began to change colors

and a dog ran out of the room hotly pursued by a paintbrush.

but 15 minutes is a looong time to stay focused when you’re not quite 3.

i’ll be the first to admit that it took the complete attention of three adults

to facilitate this little art experience

for three young children at decidedly different developmental stages.

was it worth it?

i’ll let you be the judge:

(that’s as focused as i could get it by that point.)

shortly after this J & A, who shall heretofore be referred to as “the saints”, returned to retrieve their young.

three very happy children went home that night with their own original artwork to hang on their walls.

as for me, i have this evening softly tucked away in my bank of favorite memories ever.

i’d do it again in a minute!

…at auntie S’s house.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2012 6:37 pm

    oh. my. gosh.
    i enjoyed EVERY moment spent with the children.
    what a great post.


    • sassysistersink permalink*
      March 25, 2012 3:56 am

      grab a brush and come join us!
      we have some pretty good times.

  2. Frannie permalink
    March 25, 2012 4:39 pm

    Isn’t it wonderful to see children explore their inner talents without reservation…..Preston likes to make “books” when he is here visiting nana. I think it would be fun for the children to send pictures and show what they have created. It would also link the kids a little closer to each other.

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      March 26, 2012 12:48 am

      we can do that, frannie.
      and have plenty of creative materials on hand for them in july!

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