Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Relinquishing Control and Painting Fabric with a Preschooler

I own four tablecloths. One is for fancy occasions, one is too big, one is old and faded, and one I love. So that one gets used, then washed, then used again.

Fabric paint, homemade or spray, keeps popping up and getting my notice. Blog posts, Pinterest feed, etc. So I thought, let's dress up that old, faded tablecloth. And what a great project to do with my five-year-old.

Now, I've gone into projects like this with my daughter, and they can end badly. I have an inner vision, and she has her impulsive preschool methods, and the two don't mesh well. I take control of the project, she loses interest, and my anxiety over the mess we are making causes me to become sharp and impatient.

Well, I was committed to this being a good experience. I did insist on mixing the paint, and I chose the pattern (a star stencil I made from of a cereal box). But then, after I modeled the technique, I willingly took turns. We each got to choose the placement for our star and got to do the dipping and painting without help. It wasn't easy for this controlling mama, let me tell you. But I kept my comments and questions to myself:
"Why are you placing your stars so close together?"
"Oh no! You dripped paint on the tablecloth/porch!"
"If you use that much paint, it will ooze under the stencil."
And here's the funny thing, my stars were far messier, and I definitely dripped my share of paint. But we didn't mind. We said those were extra tiny stars. I assured her I could get the paint off the porch. And we had a great time. When she got bored, I got to add a few more stars to even out the pattern while she was inside washing her hands.

And when I discovered the paint that had leaked through onto the porch (in addition to the splatters we made and the paint tracked into the house), I kept (somewhat) cool, and only snapped replies or instructions once or twice while cleaning up.

In the end, I think what we made is a masterpiece. Admittedly, I was going more for a starry night look than a patriotic one, but half of those stars are her genuine work with no help from me. We'll be proud to eat on this tablecloth.




Turns out I couldn't get all the paint off the porch. Oh well, I think there's a lesson in the regular reminders those stains will offer me.





22 comments :

  1. The lovely tablecloth will always remind you of the wonderful time you spent working with your daughter. -- I wish my mother had 'kept her comments and questions to herself' more often when I was working on a project with her in my childhood.

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    1. See, now that's good reinforcement for me. Thanks!

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  2. OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I WOULD PAY FOR A TABLECLOTH LIKE THAT!!!! I didnt expect it to be sooooo nice! How awesome is that!!!!! REALLY!!! I LOVE IT!!!!! It pays to let creativity express itself freely!!!!!

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  3. I can only thing how proud she will be to have the masterpiece she helped create put to regular use. I think it's truly lovely, and you will find yourself smiling at those star shadows on the porch, leave them as memories of a happy day shared!

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    1. You know, I already am. I heat set the paint last night, and plan to put it on the table today.

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  4. Nothing is so important than to show your children that what they do is part of home too. This succeeds brilliantly. I would go further than Josie and say you should definitely do the porch properly next!

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    1. You're right! We should make it look intentional!

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  5. I am proud of you for letting your children do this. Process art is invaluable - the end result is a bonus. I also liked the paint spatters on the concrete. Go for it!

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    1. She was so happy doing it. I loved how confident she felt.

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  6. This paragraph is exactly why I tend to avoid projects:
    Now, I've gone into projects like this with my daughter, and they can end badly. I have an inner vision, and she has her impulsive preschool methods, and the two don't mesh well. I take control of the project, she loses interest, and my anxiety over the mess we are making causes me to become sharp and impatient.

    Sounds exactly how things go here. We and our girls are so alike in things like this - amazes me. I have found that when I find a way to get over myself and cast aside my expectations of the finished project, things go much better and we are able to actually enjoy the time together. And I've found this - being immersed in a project opens up an atmosphere where we can talk about things as we work. That is something that will be so handy as Kidzilla gets older and we have much bigger issues to chat about than those that concern six year old girls.

    I love your tablecloth - that will be the most precious thing. And I love the porch stains just as much, I think. What a great sotry. :D

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    1. This is such a great idea, this having conversations during the process. I am going to hang on to that as a reason to keep working at this difficult skill for me.

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  7. Teaches them that they are an indispensable part of the family!

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  8. Oh, I remember those days, when it took a month for the paint to wash off the patio! I miss them. You did a great job, keeping your opinions to yourself, and your daughter did a great job too.

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  9. Relinquishing control...that's hard for me. Probably why I rarely attempted these kinds of projects, but I admire you for taking it on! And the paint looks lovely on the porch - gives it character!

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    1. I like that expression (gives character). I say my dead front tooth (darkish) give my smile character.

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  10. I love your new tablecloth! What a fun idea, and GO YOU for rolling with the paint stains on the porch and the tiny extra stars on the tablecloth. I actually used to always use one, but since becoming a mom, and it constantly getting pulled 1/2-way off, I put it away. Maybe Tucker's old enough now that I can bring it back out. And paint over the stains!!

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    1. See, I always use one now, as a mom, to protect the table. That and a table pad. I make 'em out of cheap materials and wash them regularly.

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