Thursday, May 03, 2007

When I Paint My Masterpiece

When Ken and I got married, I folded 1,000 origami cranes (senbazuru) to use as centerpieces at our reception and later to send to the peace park in Hiroshima. One thousand paper cranes, and eight years later, and I still seem to have 500 sheets of origami paper left, paper in which my son has taken a recent interest.
Unfortunately he's a lot like me when it comes to creative endeavors, not enough patience to actually read instructions, or in his case, not old enough to read instructions. So for him origami is just a lot of random folding and creasing, and after he's done he announces what's been created: it's a tunnel, or a flower, or cat in a snowstorm (isn't that some kind of joke?). Then he'll add "did you know I could make such a good flower, tunnel, cat in a snowstorm."
He does the same thing with Sculpey. We have buckets full of modeling clay that never dries out, but he insisted on getting some Sculpey because you can cook it in the oven. It hardens and then your masterpiece can be painted. In my son's case, that masterpiece is some small, unrecognizable object, that looks more like a piece of clay that inadvertently fell on the floor underneath the table, then something that was thought through and purposefully made.
I'm caught between trying to enthusiastically support his artistic endeavors and telling him to stop wasting origami paper or clay. On the other hand, what am I saving all that origami paper for - my second wedding?
When we were kids we didn't have clay that stayed soft. You had to meticulously put your Play-Dough back in its container when you were finished with it lest it dry out. Inevitably lots of Play-Dough got left out, dried, and stuck to the orange shag rug. Eventually, despite being careful, the Play-Dough dried out anyway and there was nothing left to do with it except eat it. Mmmm, salty.
The memory of Play-Dough is why parents today consider clay that doesn't dry out to be a scientific breakthrough rivaling the invention of anesthesia. We can't conceive of why our kids would covet clay that hardens. Why go back to the dark ages? We want to wave a pointed finger at them and say "when I was a kid they didn't have clay that stayed soft forever. You kids today - you're the ones who are soft."

song: When I Paint My Masterpiece • artist: Bob Dylan

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