Anyone with kids can tell you doing crafts with them when they’re little is a serious exercise in flexibility. Pinterest is full of great Christmas craft pins for little kids, and I troll through them every year for ideas that will make good homemade decorations. This year, I decided we’d use branches from the pine tree in the back yard to print Christmas trees on paper, and then the kids could use their fingerprints to make the ornaments on the tree. Great idea, right?!
So I waded into the snow in the back yard and poked myself on the two harsher pine trees before finding the softest one in the corner of our yard, clipped some branch ends for the kids, and headed inside with visions of adorable printed trees dancing in my head. The boys were excited to try something new, and they got right into dipping the branches into green paint and dab dab dabbing trees on their sheets of paper.
Then my five-year-old found a paintbrush on the floor and started using it to paint. My correction followed: let’s put the paintbrush away and just use the branches today. I want these to turn out nice. It won’t look like a tree that way.
What the hell had just come out of my mouth? Were we bristle-stamping a commissioned piece for the Smithsonian or a green Christmas creation that would hang up in our kitchen for a week? Oh, right. The latter.
I checked my neuroticism in time to see the two-year-old smearing his paint around on his paper with his hands, completely obliterating the tree-like texture and any recognizable shape. I asked the five-year-old what he was doing, and he explained that he was painting grass around two little Christmas trees, and then he started pulling off pine needles and adhering them to the painted trees.
The result was hideously great. It didn’t look a thing like a Christmas tree, and he had no interest in putting the ornament fingerprints on once he was over the activity. But he loved that it looked like a “real” tree with the needles in it, and both kids had fun. The green, spiney smears are proudly taped to the back patio doors, and we will likely take them down before Valentine’s day, when they can be replaced by some other painted thing I’ll look back on and smile about when they’re not here making ugly treasures for me anymore.