Six weeks ago, I glanced at Noah and did a double take. Not only was he sitting down with a colouring book in front of him, miraculously, he was actually colouring in. Up until this point, Noah’s interaction with colouring books involved him picking up a crayon (usually black) and scribbling all over the picture on the page, then turning to the next page and doing the same until the whole colouring book was one mass of scribbled out pictures. To my dismay, I found Noah could actually colour in amazingly well for a three year old. And thus, Mini Maker was born.
Noah is a child who develops obsessional phases with things. As quickly as these phases come, they are gone again. Once he had an obsession with clementines and would eat at least five every day. When he was eighteen months old, he had an obsession with sticker books. “Stick-stick” was one of his first words. I was spending about £30 a month on the things and that was me limiting myself. His latest obsession is arts and crafts and, like most of Noah’s obsessions, this one is relentless and exhausting.
Every day when I pick him up from kindergarten, he presents me with a pile of drawings which he claims are for me. When my husband gets home from work, he is then presented with the same drawings which are now for him. Sometimes, the kindergarten make things with the children to adorn the walls. Noah has issues with this. He doesn’t want to leave things he has made at kindergarten, he wants to bring them home the very same day. A couple of weeks ago, I arrived to find cardboard owls hanging from the ceiling. Noah pointed out his one and wanted to take it home. “You can take it home next week,” the practitioner told him. A meltdown ensued. The owl was removed from the ceiling and has since been sitting on our bookshelf. We spent most of that week making owls at home. We must have made ten owls, one of which was taken back into kindergarten and presented to the pedagog.
Whenever we go back to England, my Aunt buys Noah a present. When we returned in October, she had bought him a whole bag of arts and crafts goodies – colouring pencils, stickers, a sharpener, pencil case, coloured paper, scissors and, Noah’s favourite, “MY VERY OWN SELLOTAPE!!!” I left him with my Dad while I went to look at a primary school we are thinking of sending him to. When I left at 9 a.m., Noah and Dad were at the kitchen table making things with pompoms and pipe cleaners. When I returned at 11 a.m., Noah and Dad were still at the kitchen table making things with pompoms and pipe cleaners.
I stalk Pinterest for ideas. It’s like being a teacher all over again, planning my lessons with Noah. He knows his own mind when it comes to his artistic creations. He knows his own mind full stop. He won’t be guided and our creations are never Pinterest worthy. The week of Halloween, we did potato stamping in the shape of a pumpkin. But Noah didn’t like the pumpkins having eyes and mouth so he painted over them. We also did finger-painting around a bat shape on black paper. This was a particular favourite and he asked to do it again a few days later. When he said, “I want to make a bat,” I thought he said, “I want to make a rat,” so I cut him out a giant rat shape. This caused a meltdown until I finally understood what he meant. Then he painted the rat too.
If I hear the Mr. Maker theme tune, I have to shoot across the room and pay full attention because, at some point that day, I will be asked to replicate whatever it was Mr. Maker made.
Noah: Can you draw me what Mr. Maker drew this morning?
Me: What was it?
Noah: That thing that Mr. Maker drew this morning!
Me: What did Mr. Maker draw this morning?
Noah: I don’t know. Do you know?
Me: No, I don’t know. What did it look like?
Noah: A fridge with feet.
Me: A fridge? A fridge that we put food inside? With feet?
Noah: I SAID I WANT THAT THING THAT MR MAKER DID DRAW THIS MORNING!!!!
Obviously, I am delighted Noah is exploring his creative side. I am delighted that he has proved himself capable of sitting down and doing an activity calmly for a prolonged period of time. But as well as the fact that his constant desire to make things is intense, it is also problematic in other ways. Firstly, it’s expensive. I bought him a big pack of paper and set of felt tip pens (never again) in IKEA and they were used up within a week. I’ve also bought him countless craft kits – wooden elephants, paper boxes, foam dinosaurs, Christmas cards. Second problem: it’s messy. Last week, I was on the phone to the council about reinstating our parking permit and Noah was painting at the kitchen table. He spilt an entire pot of blue paint on my Mum’s upholstered chair. I had to phone her in hospital to break the news. Today, Noah started to paint the outside of the paint pots. I told him to stop so he roared in outrage and threw the purple paint pot at the white kitchen wall. He has several tops I cannot get the paint out of to save my life. But my biggest problem is that I am running out of ideas. We have already made Christmas cards for everyone we know. Maybe we should make Happy New Year cards too…
Maybe my Noah will be a world famous artist one day. Maybe he will win the Turner Prize and I will be interviewed about what he was like as a child and I will be able to regale journalists with these tales. Most likely, Noah will have grown out of this phase by Christmas and all the craft kits I have stuffed his sack with will remain unopened, left on the shelf to grow dusty because that is the way things go with a three year old. Or is that just my Noah?