Press Play-doh onto the Walls!


Almost all good things come and go…what’s your wabi-sabi?

Readers and clients are aware of my broad stance on what constitutes art: there is a material, an outcome, an intent to express – and so long as no one is intentionally harmed in the process – I’m down with it.

Art affecting material things – that’s an ongoing philosophical dilemma, for me. Part of me likely does not value the material world as much as most people, and yet, I honor that defacing property or things of importance to others can be a terrible violation of trust and respect and safety. So, when I think about guidelines for my toddler, I adopted traditional ones like – markers and crayons go onto paper, only, unless permission is granted.

When it comes to play-doh, you’d think I’d take a similar stance. Stickers throw me into a philosophical spiral, as well.

I hear a conversation in my head like, “there is value in your daughter learning boundaries.”

“But who made the boundaries, and why?” I spat back at myself.

“Oh, shoosh,” I reply, “concrete boundaries give her peace of mind, it will make her a better friend and guest, and she will already know what to do in the classroom.”

But then I hear the voice of her magical, progressive playschool in my head  – so long as you are kind to yourself, one another, and the environment, you’re cool. It’s both challenged my parenting guidelines at times – ie, I used to be firm that “on slides, you only go down,” and enabled my artistic biases.

Typical Monday in suburbia, I had an aha moment. It was a small opening into permission to broaden, or rather sink into broader ways, how I wished to allow my daughter to be – especially, as an artist.

So, then, this typical Monday in suburbia, when she brought this very wabi-sabi idea (of pressing play-doh to walls) to my attention, I said, “sure honey…throw some play-doh all over our finest molding, coated in bleach-white paint. you go, girl.”

I thought of my past self: the worrier, the rule follower, and the one concerned that a child from my wildest side could never fit it…

Then I embraced the moment, and glad that I did.

I aimed for an up-close photo to capture the ephemeral art (c’mon, I’m not that liberal to let play-doh permanently crust over the main entrance of our home). My daughter shouted, “No momma, not yet! No picture.”

I asked, “why not?”

And she replied, “I’m still in process.”

At the sound of her declaration, my wild-art-heart exploded with joy and confidence.

What are your guidelines regarding art and children? Please share…and please share your stories from the front line!

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