The other day, my seven-year old granddaughter and I made critters out of sea shells. She did the designing and I handled the hot glue gun. I had to do my best to interpret her visions. I learned she’s particular. She didn’t want anything too crazy or make believe. No putting eyes on any old shell. I’d show her something and she would laugh and say, “Oh, Nana,” as you would say to a silly child, “Not like that.”
After we ran out of sea shells, she wanted make a three dimensional paper peacock and asked if we could peruse Pinterest for ideas. Lots of pretty peacocks, but they were either too sophisticated (quilling and origami) or too crude (painted paper plate tails and toilet paper tube bodies). Finally I came up with an idea for the tail that she liked.
We got stuck on how to make the body. She had a vision, apparently a realistic one, too: “I want it to be round, with a long neck and round head and a beak.” Everything I suggested, she rejected. Even Dziadzia (Grandpa) got involved in the brainstorming, but we fell flat… no pun intended
It didn’t help that my granddaughter hadn’t had a good night’s sleep. Most of the ideas I came up with were more complicated than I wanted to attempt, and I didn’t want to spend hours helping her make something she wasn’t happy with. When she got teary, I suggested we set the peacock tail aside. “Sometimes we don’t get the answers the first time. Maybe we’ll think of something tomorrow, or the next day. You never know. An idea could come to you in a dream.”
She was disappointed, but luckily she’s an easy kid to reason with. Her struggle reminded me of my middle son, an artist. When he was young, he’d come up with some crazy thing he wanted to build, like a miniature roller coaster, but I was of little help in the execution of his project. I’d drag out the PlayDoh, or clay, paper, scissors, popsicle sticks, toothpicks, whatever, but he’d end up in tears, saying “No, no, that’s not it.” He clearly had a vision, but I couldn’t see it.
I was thinking, for future craft sessions with my granddaughter, I might stick to patterns or ideas with scripted how-to steps, but I hate to quash her creativity. Everyone fails sometime. It’s okay to reach a dead end and set things aside. The process itself is what’s important, don’t you think?