When I do arts and crafts with our kids I cannot help but think about times I spent with my grandparents. When I was growing up my brother and I would go to my Grandmothers’ and Grandfathers’ house for the weekend and we would always seem to do a lot of different arts and crafts projects. My Grandma was a very artistic lady, always painting or sewing. She may not have been the best at what she tried but she did it because she enjoyed it. My Grandma showed me the enjoyment in these activities and to be proud of your accomplishments. Some of the things I remember making were Christmas ornaments, doll clothes, and a lot of Barbie pillows. Then there was the baking.
My Grandmother loved to bake, and we knew that a visit to my Grandparents house would include making cookies. We would make at least one batch of cookies, often two varieties, and get the kitchen a real mess. Sometimes we would be sent outside with Grandpa to play in the garden while she cleaned up, but at other times she would make clean-up enjoyable and we would help as well. Another popular activity was the dress-up box in the basement. It was so much fun dressing up in the old clothes and costumes and pretending we were someone else. I even remember being able to try on her wedding dress. It was not a big puffy thing like you might imagine, instead it was a modest dress from the 30’s; a straight dress covered in lace. I thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world.
These activities kept us busy and wanting to return and they were simple and perhaps a little old fashioned when looked upon with today’s eyes. We were encouraged to be kids and to do the things we enjoyed doing. This was our time to discover, learn, and experience. I admire my Grandmother so much for the patience she had with us. She made us feel important and allowed us to do the activities we wanted to do. She gave us the space to be individuals and provided the support to make us feel we could accomplish anything.
In many respects the environment we want to create for our kids uses the model of my grandparents. We want to be there for our children when they need the support and want help expressing themselves or be creative but we also want to give them the space necessary to be individuals and to just be kids. We do not need fancy gadgets and to be on the go all the time. In the eyes of children the simplest things can lead to the most amazing and wonderful experiences. Do we have the ability to slow down and simplify our days so we can spend the time needed as a family, and do we have the foresight to back off from our kids and not smother them with constant scheduled activities? I think we do and when I get a little off track I can just sit down in a comfy chair with my cup of tea and a freshly baked cookie and contemplate ‘What would Grandma do?’