While making some art for Valentine’s Day with my son this morning, I got a lovely little reminder about the nature of love.
I wanted to share what I learned with you my readers because I know how easy it is to get caught up in the culture of Valentine’s Day and forget what it’s really about. Between helping your kids fill out those Valentines for everyone in the class, and trying to find the “perfect” gift for your partner, Valentine’s Day can start to feel like another thing on our to-do list.
Sometimes we forget that it’s the little “gifts” that we give every day that really communicate our feelings – and not what our cards say on Feb. 14th…. Well, I got my reminder this morning and maybe you could use this little reminder too! (as well as a fun little art project to try)
A Little Valentines Art Project
My morning began with a cancelled school day (due to snow) and I breathed a little sigh of relief. As a teacher, I get the day off too and it would be nice to have some extra time to help my son make a gift or card for Valentine’s Day for his Dad, as well as his teacher and classmates.
My husband had taken my son out the day before to get me a special gift and I wanted my son to have a chance to reciprocate. After a brief discussion, we decided to make some art together for his Dad.
We had been talking about trying some paper weaving for a while, and we decided we could start there. So we dove into my craft room supplies and my son picked out a few colours of paper.
And first of all, I have to say, I was surprised by his choices.
There I was thinking we should go with pink, purple, and red. You know, the traditional colours for Valentine’s Day. And he chose a multicoloured rainbow sheet along with baby blue, hot pink and black of all colours!
So I said, “Are you sure you want those colours hon? Don’t you want some red or purple?” Meanwhile, my brain is thinking something like, “Black. Black. That’s not going to look very Valentine-sy.”
Onetime’s answer was, “Yep – these look good.” So I kind of paused and thought…”Okay, it’s his project, not mine. Whatever he wants, we’ll use.” Even though the other part of my brain was screaming, “Why, oh, why does he want BLACK for a valentine?”
I know. I sound a bit control freakish, don’t I?
But I often have to fight against that little voice in my head that whispers silly things to me telling me to control my son and I bet if you’re human and a parent – you probably have it too!
Anyway, we head to the living room to start making the paper weaving and I show Onetime how to fold the paper in half and cut slits into the sheet. Meanwhile, he’s asking what he can do, so I ask him to start cutting the coloured papers into strips.
When I look over though, what I was imagining would be a growing pile of neatly cut, regular thickness strips were wavy, and different widths. He wasn’t doing what I thought he would at all! 😳
Again, I had to stop myself from saying what was going through my mind …which was something like, “What the heck are you doing? When you paper weave, the strips all have to be the same width and length!”
Then, another voice came into my head saying, “WHY exactly do they all have to be the same width? WHO says that’s the way it has to be?” and thankfully I chose to listen to that voice.
My son was enjoying cutting the strips and was eagerly participating in thoughts about the beautiful art he was making for his Dad – who was I to interrupt that process to impose my strange paper weaving expectations!? 😉
I’m glad I listened to that second voice. I don’t know where it came from, but I’m glad it kept coming to me loud and clear.
Over the next hour, while we made some beautiful art together for my husband, my son taught me again and again how creativity breaks all standard rules, and how awesome it is to do things your own way, and how beautiful it can really be to follow your inspiration.
I think our art is stunning! It was a lot more creative and beautiful than anything I had initially pictured.
Reflections on Love and Art
Writing this now, I’m so thankful that I could give my son that “gift” of hushing my desire to control the project, and instead allowing myself to follow his lead.
And I think love is a lot like that.
You know the old adage, if you love something set it free? Maybe, we can also add, if you love something, let it BE.
Isn’t that one of the most beautiful gifts we can give our kids for Valentine’s Day, or any day? To allow them to be who they really are. Without our judgement, our control, our rigid insistence that they always follow our rules, or our ways of doing things?
Because, you know what I learned today?
My way isn’t always right. It isn’t always the best way. And it isn’t always going to be the most beautiful way for my son.
Only he can decide that for himself.
And he’ll only be able to do that if I continue to let him. If I allow him to follow his instincts and his inspiration…he’ll create something beautiful.
And how cool is it, that I can get to be a part of that!?
Happy Valentine’s Day my friends!
To read more tips for supporting kids’ creativity – read this post!