Friday, January 10, 2014

Toddler Smash Book

One of my favorite new projects is this Toddler Smash Book, or Toddler Mess Book. I give my 2-year-old a bunch of supplies -- stickers, markers, crayons, Post-It notes, etc., and let her make a big "mess" on the page.

Throughout the process, she tells me what she's drawing or what she wants to write, and I jot it down. Sometimes I note why she's said certain things or just add my little responses -- like when she accidentally rips something and I say, "That's okay!" That's the point -- to make a mess, to create, destroy, an endless cycle.

Sometimes I find it difficult, especially being a bit of a control freak when it comes to crafting, but each time we do a new page, she teaches me to let go a little bit more and just create, destroy, create again. Sometimes I make something that I feel is really pretty on the page, and she just scribbles over it or rips it apart. I tense up for a minute, then let it go. I tell myself, "This is not supposed to be pretty or perfect. There is no set pattern. This is chaos. This is us." With each new page it gets easier to let go.

And, when I just can't bear to destroy something, I tuck little projects into the book's envelopes, randomly placed between different pages. She grabs a pad of paper, shaped like a hand, and slowly rips off each finger, handing them to me. I assemble them into a flower. "Here's one more for you, Mommy," she says. I tuck the petals together. When I'm finished, I have 5 blue petals on top. I find some letter stickers and put the letters of her name on each petal. It's nothing gorgeous, just a little memento of our mess-making. I tuck it in the envelope, safe from her destructive design techniques. I include a little note about why we made it.

I tell Mark, "Someday, when she's a teenager and hates me, she'll find this and remember how much fun we had making it. Or someday, when I'm long gone, she or her granddaughter or great-granddaughter may find it."

On Wednesday, I was really feeling down about not exploring more, traveling more, leaving a more lasting legacy of living life out in the real world. I know part of me will always feel that way (and that we'll strive for that more as a family as Ellie gets older). Today it was more than enough to just tuck away a little piece of me in an envelope, to leave my mark in our book.

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