Today was looking like it was going to be abysmal.
I went to bed far too late which was my own fault. But the kids woke up early which meant I had to wake up early.
So there I was stomping about the kitchen like it was Tokyo and I was Godzilla. Or possibly Mothra. I am undecided. Either way, I was doing some quality stomping and snapping.
And then one of the kids asked if they could do some painting.
I’d like to say I stopped grumping and thought “Wow, what an excellent opportunity to do some art and recharge my batteries by indulging in some crafty play with my beautiful children.”
But that would be a total lie.
Instead what I thought was “oh my GOD yes, do some painting because then I can have five minutes peace to make the porridge and sweep the floor and do ALL THE THINGS.”
So they started painting and I got on with my jobs, still feeling cranky. But just watching them paint started to make me feel better. There’s something so joyous about kids and paint, it’s infectious. You can’t help getting involved. Usually because one of them puts their horrible painty hands all over you. Or shouts for more paper. Or smashes one of the others over the head with the paint tray because they get frustrated that all the colours are getting mixed.
(Maybe that last one is just my kids though, so don’t be too afraid of painting with your children.)
I always get drawn in though. I want to know what they’re painting and they start to tell me stories about their work and before I know it, bad mood is gone and I’m covered in paint and glitter making pictures of robot cows from Venus or something.
And then I remembered I had a cardboard box upstairs.
Cardboard boxes are the rarest and best of all treats. You can do so much with a cardboard box, some pens and half an hour of concentration. Add in some scissors and glue and a few other bits and pieces and you have an infinite amount of fun in a box. Don’t even get me started on the possibilities if you chuck in a hot glue gun.
I dream of one day getting my hands on another gigantic box. We got one a few years ago when our old tv died. It was heaven. We made a cubby house with windows and a drawn on garden. The kids disappeared inside and I didn’t see them for hours.
I assembled our tools. We had buttons, tin foil, vast amounts of glue in various forms, stick on googly eyes, string, paper mache balls, paint sticks, wool… You get the idea. I’ve learned to keep a varied craft arsenal over the years. The cost of buying art supplies is worth the saving of my sanity.
We drew some schematics. By which I mean the kids did some amazing blobby pictures of robots in brilliant colours.
And then we let rip.
I sewed on some arms made from cut up paper plate scraps. Empty cotton reels, polystyrene cubes, the middles out of ribbon bobbins, old buttons. All perfect for robot innards.
And then Esme made the best suggestions ever: rocket blasters. This is one of the things that is most fantastic about doing craft with kids. They are powerhouses of imagination and they honestly believe that we can do anything.
I remembered we had some old toilet roll tubes in the recycling. I know! What madness, actually recycling perfectly good toilet roll tubes!
Esme painted them, I sewed them on and anchored them with empty cotton reels which double up as controls for the rockets. She also stuffed the tubes with crazy tissue paper hair for flames. It is currently performing a Crazy Ivan.
It has a deflector shield too and the world’s tiniest head, complete with googly eyes. Mostly because I thought it looked funny.
By the time we’d finished, I’d almost forgotten that I’d ever been in a bad mood. Almost. (Obviously in the time it’s taken to type this blog post, I’ve had to fend off children trying to sit on the keyboard, averted half a dozen diplomatic incidents and repeated the words “Just give me five minutes peace” so many times that I feel like one of those looped tape recordings they play on the Tube.)
Esme has decided that Robot has a pet dragon. Judging from the look on her face Robot is planning to rain down fiery destruction on the earth using Dragon as his minion.
If you like the idea of building cool robots out of cardboard boxes you should definitely check out this book: http://www.vivianeschwarz.co.uk/?page_id=370 I don’t own it yet but it’s on my list of things I’ll be buying myself for my birthday! And then, I just need to get my hands on another enormous box.