On Toddlers and Carving Tools

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.

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Grubby Pumpkins