Cotton babies, the makers of bum genius brand diapers (and the new socialite collection) are asking us all: How do you encourage a creative, artistic spirit in your baby, toddler or young child? I think the arts are important and unusually undervalued during this era. There are many kinds of art, but all I can say is that I’m doing for my child what my parents did for me and I dabble in the arts fairly frequently…
She plays outside in the dirt.
Shocker, right? Because you’d think I went to a ton of art classes. Studied nature with a brush in my hand for inspiration to strike. Threw clay at an early age. No. It just didn’t work that way. Don’t get me wrong, I encourage my child to color scribble on paper, tell her about colors, and set an example by decorating our home in vivid hues. Several projects I am doing myself are artsy and are FOR her.
Every day I try and make her food look appetizing and pleasing to all her senses. We also dance to music (or kick our feet in the carseat if we’re in the car) and bop our heads. Music appreciation is all the rage in our house.
So is she getting it through osmosis… sure she probably is. However, I feel like playing outside in the dirt is so much more important than any lesson about color or presentation of foodstuffs or a jock jam.
Think of it this way: How did most kids play before tv, before indoor plumbing, before life was so cozy and safe? They played outside. They ran through the countryside, squished sand through their toes, studied a bug. Great artists didn’t have anything fancy. They were simply kids.
So mine? She plays while I mow grass. Sometimes she follows me when I mow. She sees the patterns formed by the stripes of already mowed and to be mowed grass. She learns texture and mechanics. When she’s not following me, she’s picking up rocks, studying them (tasting them a time or two), learning about leverage and size and velocity when thrown. Then there’s the dirt part. You were waiting, right? She uses a stick (those thin slats you get for stirring paint),or her ‘bathtub’ toys that are supposed to scoop water, or a frisbee to hold the excess dirt or mound it up in, and then fling it into the air, and even a dustpan. She sees mom using one, so of course, she should too, it IS dirt after all. She picks up handfuls and stares at them. She tastes it (again). She ‘dusts’ her hands off and looks at them, too. She’s learning colors, cause and effect, wind scatter, distribution of materials, application of medium to canvas. Who says her body isn’t a glorious canvas all by itself?
When it’s time to come in and I strip off her clothes, I’m amused. She is wearing one of her bum genius diapers, and there’s a distinct ring of dirt around her diaper line, where the elastic kept the dirt and sand out of her tush. Now THAT is priceless.