I don’t know how I managed it, but somehow, in my nearly 5 years as a mom, I’ve managed to never before delve into the world of finger paint. For Benjamin’s second Christmas, he got an easel, including paints, brushes and paper for painting, which we’ve used sporadically. Honestly, it always seems like so much trouble — getting everything set up, trying to contain the paint in the general area of the paper, dealing with the resulting mess — that we don’t do it very often. When we lived in Virginia, I’d set it up sometimes in the kitchen (with the easy to clean up tile floor) and since we’ve been here, I’ve actually set it up on the terrace a few times. The boys always enjoy it when we get it out, but the mess is usually pretty significant. We still have a few marks on the walls from our last painting adventure, and I never manage to get all of the paint out of their clothes.
I guess I always imagined that finger paints would be worse. No brushes, actually requiring the kids to use their hands . . . it seems like if brushes were a mess, finger paint would be a disaster. I think that’s why we never did it. Yesterday, though, I was feeling brave. B was off of school (teacher training day) — it can be so hard on days like that to not have the day turn into an entire 10 hours of tv and video games. I’ve been thinking ahead to the summer, when I’ll have both boys home, and reminding myself to be proactive about getting us all involved in activities together, so yesterday I (rather bravely) asked the kids what they’d like to do that didn’t involve anything electronic. Liam voted to build trucks with Legos (which we do a lot — I’m rather an expert) and Benjamin wanted to paint. I had a little moment of panic when I imagined setting up the easel, getting everything out, containing the boys and paint and then cleaning everything up. And then I remembered that the finger paints at least claim to be “washable”, and we wouldn’t need an easel or anything fancy — I could just set them up with the paint at the table in our living room and some sheets of computer paper. So I decided to give it a try.
And we had a great time. After a tentative start (both boys were worried about making a mess . . . I think mommy’s mess-aphobia must be catching) they absolutely loved it. I was really surprised to watch them get in to it — Benjamin was full of messy enthusiasm, squishing the paint between his fingers and experimenting with the outcome of mixing colors, while Liam was dainty and purposeful with his choices. (I had expected the opposite.) B made several handprint pictures, while Liam refused. B made a butterfly, Liam made a rainbow. They both laughed and giggled and showed off their pictures to each other.
Truly, we all had a wonderful time. And, as it turns out, the paint was easily contained at the table. (And it actually appears to be washable. I got it off of the kids and off of the table without a problem, and it seems to have come out of their clothes as well.) The boys loved it — they had so much fun playing and making a “mess” (which really wasn’t bad) and being creative, and they couldn’t wait to tell Dan about it when he got home. I’m so glad that we’ve (finally) discovered the joy of finger painting. It was well worth the trouble.