untitled (14)I will never forget my first box of crayons. Crayola, of course. Can you remember the waxy smell and the clever names? My favorites were cauliflower and sky blue. Or was it magenta and maize? My husband’s favorite was burnt sienna. Who am I kidding? I loved them all.

The endless potential for creation that rectangular box of meticulously wrapped, wax sticks held was huge. The excitement made me cradle the new purchase in my arms like a new doll. Move over, Picasso. Watch it, Matisse. Scoot over, Van Gogh. I sat the box on the same shelf as my ball trophies. My new crayons pulled the same rank as my sporting accomplishments. I was not only going to be the girl working towards a black belt in karate. I was about to be an artist too. I just needed a bottomless supply of white paper and it was going to be ON.

Flash forward thirty-five years.

I am holding the scotch tape gently between my teeth as I adjust my own child’s latest depiction of our family of four as various stick figures. My cabinets and refrigerator are covered in their artwork. It is a rare occasion that I throw one away. I often sit and watch them as they draw, color, glitterfy, sculpt, cut, tape and glue their latest creations. Have you ever noticed a child hard at work as an artist? Typically, their mouth is set in a taut line with the tongue curled in pure concentration around the upper lip. Adorably awesome. Perfectly engaged. A creator at work.

Finger paints, play-doh and glitter are a childhood rite of passage. So often, we push them to the back of the cabinet because they are messy. Moms + messes = L. Art is an important albeit messy process. Often, I will tell visitors to our home to please excuse the mess because memories are being made. It just goes with the territory of a life well-lived.

Einstein was right when he said, “Play is the highest form of research.” The more we allow kids to make messes (within reason, barring any Nickelodeon green slime on the walls), the more confident our children will become as creators and artists. Every child is an artist. Just ask any kid with a new box of crayons.

P.S. If you’re like us, you probably have a box or drawer of broken, unloved crayons somewhere in the house. They are super fun to recycle. Here is how:

* Gather up all of your broken crayons, and cut them into small pieces. (An adult will need to complete this step.)

* Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

* Fill the muffin tin with an inch-thick layer of crayon pieces.

* Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the wax is melted.

* Allow the tin to cool; then pop out the crayons, and they’re ready for use by your little Van Goghs.


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