On Toddlers and Carving Tools

by doodaddy on October 21, 2008

I launch into creative projects without any inkling that I might lack the requisite talent to complete them — overconfidence is my nature.

Which is why I didn’t think twice before inviting two of Boo’s girlfriends (that’s so fun to say!) to carve pumpkins the other day. We have pumpkins, we have markers and paint, we have knives. Let the kids loose!

Oh, right: that whole “kids and knives don’t mix” thing.

Setting that aside, though — I actually am of the Gever Tulley school of “do give the children knives” — the more critical issue when approaching an artistic endeavor with toddlers is this:

How much do you do for them?

Sometimes the answer is mercifully obvious. Take thank-you notes: adult writes text, child finger-paints over entirety of notecard. The recipient won’t need to know the words and will find the art charming.

But jack-o-lanterns, it is to be hoped, will be recognizably face-like, right? Mostly, I’ve seen parents do the project entirely, or else take direction — the “Mommy, draw a cat here!” school of thought.

Not for Boo, though. If there’s a face to be drawn (or, especially, a carving saw to hold), then she’s going to do the honors.

So I compromised. I gave my daughter the marker and pointed out various landmarks. “Draw an eye right about here! Now another one, here! Do you want a nose? Put the mouth down here!”

She scribbled away the way little kids and great masters do, with ferocity and rigor. And then, pumpkin carving saw in our joined right hands, we faithfully carved the face she’d traced.

It looks a little funny. But it’s hers, her first carved pumpkin. And she couldn’t be prouder.


Grubby Pumpkins
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in crafts,parenting ·

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

kerry October 21, 2008 at 5:07 am

Awesome! I’m looking forward to doing these types of things with my daughter. Cute.


Jerri Ann October 21, 2008 at 9:48 am

Oh the bravery of ye! My children have no clue that people actually allow children to take knives to pumpkins. We have them on our front porch but they never get carved….the fear won’t allow it!


Dan October 21, 2008 at 10:31 am

looks pretty good to me.


Kyddryn October 21, 2008 at 11:15 am

Very cool – that will certainly keep the naughty sprites at bay!

I’m thinking that the Evil Genius may get to do his entirely on his own, this year. He’s five – that’s old enough, right? Should I be worried he’s asked to borrow the Skil saw?

Shade and Sweetwater,


Veronica October 21, 2008 at 3:26 pm

I think she did an awesome job. I love it!


doodaddy October 21, 2008 at 5:09 pm

@kerry – Yeah — those are the good days. The good days, frequently, are also the really messy days!


doodaddy October 21, 2008 at 5:10 pm

@Jerri Ann – Did you watch the Gever Tully thing I linked to? Really — they *have* to use knives. It’s required.

And spears.



doodaddy October 21, 2008 at 5:11 pm

@Dan – Thanks! I’m curious to see some of your efforts now…


doodaddy October 21, 2008 at 5:12 pm

@Kyddryn – Not us. I’ve told Boo no power tools until she’s 3.


doodaddy October 21, 2008 at 5:13 pm

@Veronica – I’ll let her know — thanks!


orlund October 21, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Looks like she had lots of fun. Quite the artist.


doodaddy October 22, 2008 at 11:07 am

@orlund – Oh, yeah. Prolific is the word for it.


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