Monday, February 17, 2014

Valentines 2014

Valentine's Day came and went without much fanfare over here this year. The kids had the day off of school, so it should have been filled with fun activities, but both older kids had OOTM meetings (at alternating times of the day) which kept us close to home instead. Clark helped me bake an apple pie for Jeff followed by an afternoon of board games. We hadn't planned ahead for dinner, and our search for a non-counter service restaurant without a wait landed us at Ground Round for our family meal. Fancy, no, but enjoyable, yes. As for the creative stuff … this was the first year that Dora did not have to make a class full of cards, but she painted a handful while we had the supplies out that we then sent to our family.

It's a challenge to get a 10-year-old boy excited about making valentines for his classmates, so I approved this theme, with the only requirements being that everyone is smiling and all the weapons be shaped like hearts. He did good. (And yes, he and Dora have both recently read the trilogy … not so sure I would have allowed it, but Dad gave them the okay.)

Clark's valentines … have a story. We've been doing this brand of valentine since Dora was a preschooler: pick a picture/character/theme, print it on white paper and color them in. We usually decide on watercolor because it's quickest. This year, Clark wanted cards that looked like Penny. I usually stretch card making over a few days (more opportunities to catch child in a cooperative mood) but a home project had me busy last week, and we ended up with only two evenings to finish cards before the class party. At card making time, he was not at his best, and getting really frustrated because the paint was not going where he wanted it to go. I was giving him a little pep talk and pointed out that many famous paintings are free-form, and pulled out a book on Paul Klee to show him some examples. This got him totally energized, and he zipped through the rest of his cards saying, "It's abstract! Good art doesn't have to be in the lines!" Yes! A win for Mom!!!

The next day at school pick-up time, his classroom aide flagged me down to tell me a story. Come time to exchange cards, she spotted Clark in the corner with his head down (a familiar pose Jeff and I refer to as "the Charlie Brown") and she asked him what was wrong. He responded "I've made the worst mistake of my life." (Oh, the drama!!) He went on to lament that he was worried that his cards were no good. She convinced him to show her the valentines and suggested they take them around to some other teachers to see what they thought. They visited the two kindergarten teachers, who of course, gushed over his work. He skipped back to the classroom, happily handed out his cards, and reportedly got several complements from his classmates.

Two thoughts: First, I am so thankful for his classroom teachers this year. They SO get him and know how to get the best effort out of him. Second, I praised Clark up and down for telling someone about his problem and reinforced that as a good way to help himself out when he's feeling frustrated. A happy end to the day!

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