October 30, 2003

Permanent Canvases... Last night the children and I were at odds - they decided to draw their artwork on the wooden doors of our basement (two doors - both sides). They used dry-erase markers on wood (anyone have any ideas how to get this out?). We can't clean it off and of course we are in the process of trying to sell our home. So I was truly mad as we are now going to have to paint the doors, which will also mean painting trim.

After it was all over I got to wondering why this lesson of not drawing on things other than paper or their easel seems unable to sink into them. In the past few months we have had discussions each time after they drew on their wooden bunk beds, wooden dresser, and three separate walls in the house (which we had to repaint). Needless to say it is getting old - but I don't want to believe my kids just want to defy me. So I got to thinking - what could their motivation be?

Then I recalled an article I read once on children and permanent canvases. You see very few children have permanent canvases in their lives. They draw or paint on an easel or whiteboard and it gets erased. They make their artwork and we hang it on the fridge for a few days and then it comes down to be replaced by the next. If they are lucky their artwork finds its way into a box or portfolio to be saved. Yet they have nothing permanent. Adults: what do we have? Well many of us have home decorating (not a skill of mine) - if we decide we want that picture up it stays there, we change the color paint on a wall and it stays. We have some way of expressing ourselves artistically. What to we grant children?

So maybe my kids were longing to express themselves in a more permanent way. Or perhaps they were just really wanting to draw on a different medium - like wood. Or maybe they were just being naughty. I will try to help them find more ways to express themselves and understand why they are doing what they are doing now that the discipline time is over. That is when I decide my children can ever hold another writing utensil.


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