Every December, Tornado S’s (and Tornado E’s old school) has the four-year-old’s class decorate paper Christmas trees to decorate the outside of the classrooms, giving the trees no grade. (It was such a cute craft, I added it to the holiday craft section.) For both boys, I had them paint the trees green. Then I cut them out and gave them all kinds of stuff to glue on their trees. Tornado E did a lot of shells and confetti. This year Tornado S did buttons and beads. A lot of buttons. With one look, it was easy to see the boys did their trees by themselves.
Looking at the display of Christmas trees, I had to smile. Some trees were a chaotic mess of stickers, beads, scribbles, or glitter. One tree was covered with pom-poms. These were trees made with love, creativity, and energy. I loved them.
Then there were a few that are perfect. As in perfect. Painted without paint strokes, one tree was decorated with a garland of popcorn and dried cranberry pieces. After every third popcorn piece, a dried cranberry piece was glued in perfect symmetry. Little pipe cleaner bows fill the rest of the tree. Another tree had a garland of ribbon looped this way and that, making it look like it was gliding along non-existent branches. Perfect, beautiful round beads grace the paper tree to make it look balanced. The bird feed tree was decorated with different types of bird seed and small plant seeds in a stripped pattern. All so very lovely.
I wondered if the kids did anything to help. Anything. Maybe they were allowed to help with the glue or did the parent just do it all. Did the child stand watching, with his/her head propped on hands that rested on the table, a bored expression, waiting to do something fun? Or was the child even aware of the art project? Was she playing outside, was he watching tv, or was she sleeping; while Mommy worked on her art piece?
It’s such a simple thing. To decorate a paper tree. Are these the parents who will march into the school with the perfect book report poster or the perfect science fair display? Have these kids learned when something is complicated, possibly hard, mommy or daddy will do it? The children are four. They may never remember this. Their parents may only step in this once. But those parents did just rob their kids of doing something fun and creative so that the project would look perfect.