One of the bad things about Trinity going to a small (less than 100 total students K-6) school is they don't have an art curriculum. They have gym, music, Spanish & religion, but no art program. This is where the parents step in. They do, however, participate in the Art Adventure program in conjunction with the Minneapolis Institute of Art. This program allows parents to volunteer their time and teach the kids a little about art. At the beginning of the school year Trinity's teacher gave my name as someone who would be a good choice to teach. This proves to me that I am far too nice to Trinity's teacher. But anyway, twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring the parents go to the MIA and see 8 pieces of art and learn about each one. Then we go home, pick 4 days that work with the teacher, enter the classroom and try to excite these young minds about art.
I love the way the program works, because we don't tell them dates, names & spout off facts and speculations about the artist or the piece of art. The kids tell us. We ask things like "What do you see?" "How does this make you feel?" "Why?" We teach them that no matter how you look at it or how it makes you feel, there is no wrong answer. You can't be wrong in the world of art! After spending about half the time discussing the art, then the kids get to do a project that the parents think up that corresponds in some way with the pieces they just talked about. Some are fun and successful & some are not. But we are not professionals, nor do we pretend to be and the kids have fun no matter what.
So last week I had my first spring Art Adventure class. Normally I do this with another mom, but she called and said she had an emergency and could I handle it myself. The project seemed fairly easy, so I said yes. The project was looking through a toilet paper tube and drawing only what you saw through the tube. Straightforward enough, I thought. These are bright young kindergarten minds - they can handle it. . . Until we got started. Oh me, oh my! I had one little girl in glasses that swore she could not see through the tube with one eye shut. I told her to put her glasses back on and try and she said she was unable to shut her eyes with her glasses on, nor could she cover up one eye. She ended up keeping both eyes open since the tears were starting to sprout. Then Trinity brings me her picture, which is well done and I can tell she spent a lot of time on it, except she drew me, her father, herself and her brother. Um, two of the four weren't in the room. So, I asked her as sweetly as I could if she could turn her page over and try again, after praising her work of course. She slunk back to her desk and put her head down - AND STARTED TO CRY. Yes, she has the meanest mom in the world, because I made her cry in front of her entire class. I felt so awful.
Today I am going back, on my own again. Wish me luck. I'm going to try really hard not to make anyone cry today, especially my own child.