Sometimes I feel so mean

My kids love making art. They seem to especially love making art if it involves tape, scissors, staples, and garbage. The more of these things go into any given art project, the more they will love it. So, reusing an old water bottle by taping cut-up paper onto it and filling it with water and glitter to make a snow globe? Pretty much awesome in the kids’ book.

Which, you know, is kind of a cute idea. I was impressed with Lego’s creativity when he came up with the idea. But then Duplo had to make one too. And El Guapo had to make one too. And since the taped-on “snow villages” don’t really look like much besides little bits of paper taped onto water bottles, and since the glitter settles to the bottom, it looks like I have three water bottles, stripped of their labels, with paper attached with tape, filled with water sitting proudly on the hearth. And they’ve been there for over two weeks.

At some point, I’m going to have to throw them away, but I know there will be tears when I do. I know. But children don’t really understand that even if you dress it up, garbage isn’t meant to be kept forever. The water bottle snow globes are just one in a series of dozens of similar art projects the boys have done over the years. It never gets easier to toss them, but really, can I keep a water bottle snow globe in their file folder of best art projects ever?

There have been plastic bag parachutes and glasses made with cut-up Ziploc bags for the “glass” and ornaments made of toothpicks and “inventions” made of straws and stuffed animal houses made of Kleenex boxes and phones made of tin cans and string and all sorts of things made of bubble wrap and and and . . .

And don’t even get me started on tape and scissors. If the boys feel they are free to use them, they use a whole roll of tape in a week or two. If I make the tape available but require them to ask permission first, I’ll say, “You may use two small pieces,” and they’ll use their two, then come back and show me how the art project in question MUST have four. Or they’ll use two large pieces. Or they’ll use their two, and then half an hour later, need more tape for another project. Or they’ll use their two and leave the tape where El Guapo can pull three feet of tape off it before he’s caught.

Sometimes I (or Jonathon) just make a tape ban altogether. I know that I can’t (or shouldn’t) just never let the kids use tape until they’re teenagers, but sometimes I just need a month or two where the tape battle is on hiatus.

And scissors. Any time scissors are used, for any reason, there will be many tiny pieces of paper left all over the table, chairs, and floor. Every time someone says, “Can I use scissors?” I say, “Yes, but you have to clean up all the bits of paper afterward.” And they roll their eyes and say, “I will! I promise!” and they don’t. Every time.

Jonathon is a talented painter; I’m halfway decent at art myself. I shouldn’t be surprised our children love making art. Some of the stuff the boys make is actually really good. I want to encourage the development of their artistic talents. But can we please do it without tape, scissors, staples, and garbage?

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