Friday, December 29, 2006

Childhood then and now

The past

Part I

Once upon a time there was a little girl who enjoyed doing arts and crafts. Both her parents were creative types and evidence of their creativity surrounded the girl and her siblings throughout their childhood.

The little girl lived in an apartment building with a storage locker in the basement. Her father transformed the locker into a type of craft room where he used to fix odd items that get broken in a home with children.

There were times when the little girl and her younger sister would accompany their father down to the locker in order to do some crafts.

But the preparation time was always a big ordeal.

First, the girls' hair had to be tied back. Then their sleeves had to be rolled up well past the elbows. A plastic apron, or to the older girl's horror, an old shirt with buttons from her father, had to be donned. God forbid the clothes would get dirty or splashed with paint.

The little girl tolerated these antics because she didn't know any different. She heard it time and again that one had to protect the clothes, the hair, and keep the surroundings clean.

Years went by. The little girl grew up and became a mother herself. She is exposed to many situations where both her child, and other children around her, are doing art and crafts. She recalls the moments of preparing to go down to the locker vividly, especially during the times when her own child, or another child, doesn't go through the same preparatory ordeal that she did back then.

But she does not remember any of the crafts that were created in the storage locker. She does remember the horrid shirt with buttons, and the discomfort of having her sleeves rolled way up past her elbows.

Part II

One time, the little girl and her sister went to a community centre to do crafts with modeling clay that had to be baked in an oven when completed.

The little girl remembers clearly that there was ample sawdust around, although today as an adult, she doesn't remember why it was there or where it came from. She figures there must have been some wood working going on nearby.

The two little girls created birds out of clay, and ashtray-like containers. There were ladies there that supervised the children, and took over the dangerous activity of placing the finished clay items into the oven to bake.

The sawdust that was piled in little heaps nearby intrigued the little girl. After creating some clay items as per the lady's instructions, she walked off toward such a pile and sprinkled some sawdust onto her clay creation.

The lady's reaction surprised her. Apparently this is not something that is done. Sawdust does not belong on clay.

The lady scolded the little girl for ruining her clay item, and made the little girl feel bad.

To this day, the little girl who grew up into an adult, does not recall an explanation as to why she should not have sprinkled sawdust on her clay.

The only reason the little girl even remembers what she created on that day at the community centre is because her mother kept the bird and ashtray-like items and displayed them on the window sill for decades.

Part III

The little girl got very sick one day in school. She had just started grade 1 and fell ill with a serious case of menengitis that left her in a coma for a long time.

The little girl was lucky because she survived the illness, and was exposed to many types of physiotherapy to help regain her gross and fine motor skills.

One such activity included creating a vase using modelling clay. The vase was to be created by rolling long thick strings of clay and placing them in a circle along the bottom of the vase. Then, with the fingers, the rolls of clay-string were supposed to be rubbed gently to flatten them into the wall of the vase.

Upon completion, the entire thing was to be glazed a colour of her choice, and then baked.

The little girl was very proud of her short, round, blue vase. She kept it for many years and moves until she unpacked and displayed it in her own house.

She does not remember making the vase.

She does remember the nurse/physiotherapist telling her how not to do things, and how she discouraged her from the colour she picked out herself.

1 comment:

andrea from the fishbowl said...

Hey there -
great post. I can relate to a lot of what you're saying. I think a lot of grownups unintentionally squash creativity of young ones in their charge. Perhaps they don't mean to be so unwavering in their opinions, especially since they probably don't remember what it's like to be five with a paintbrush in hand. Their concerns are immediate ones... ones that aren't at all important to the kid. i.e. keeping your clothes clean.

It's so important to let kids be kids. Not just in the area of art, but music, dressing, play... and other creative areas.

I wrote about my own childhood art-related incident here:

It's halfway through the Feb2 entry.