“Please, stop drawing on the walls!” is a phrase that has passed my lips probably close to 50 times in my parenting life. It starts with a scribble in whatever their little fists can form around — crayon, pen, your most expensive lipstick — and eventually develops into elaborate, full color family portraits complete with pets.
This form of self-expression can be frustrating for parents and caregivers, especially those of us who don’t own our homes. I remember desperately researching every magic fix for pen, permanent marker, and crayon, and strategically covering any kid wall art with posters just to pass rental inspections.
When my kids weren’t looking, I’d take photos of the more impressive renderings. I didn’t want to encourage the behavior but at the same time I wanted to treasure and nurture their creativity. And sometimes the drawings are just so good or so funny that you almost feel bad for removing them. The good news is that drawing on the walls is not forever. The better news is, it can be fun.
My eldest daughter started school this year, and at 5 years old had grown and changed so much that her room was no longer a place that reflected who she was as a person. Sure, she had posters on the wall and her favorite superhero toys in her bed, but there was nothing there that shouted her name, and being so generic was a problem for her. So we devised a plan. I explained to her that if she wanted to, we could work together on painting something called a mural. Together we researched what a mural was and looked at photo examples, and once she understood that there were appropriate and inappropriate places to create art, we put that plan in motion.
It began with me painting a big thought bubble on the wall above her bed. Every morning I handed her a pencil, she drew something from her dream inside the thought bubble, and while she was at school I carefully traced over her lines with black paint. Two weeks later the space above her bed was filled with her own little characters, including a beautiful princess standing by a grand castle, a giraffe trying to steal a banana from a monkey, a treasure chest filled with jewels and gold, and a unicorn that moved so quickly it looked like it had a hundred legs.
The result is an artwork that is so completely my daughter, showcasing her style, interests, and creativity, and a positive experience that she thoroughly enjoyed. We adults like to personalize our spaces to help us feel more comfortable and express our personalities, and it’s my belief that kids should be given the same opportunity. My daughter’s bedroom is once again a place where she can feel happy and safe, and proud to inhabit.
“It’s good, hey Mama?” she smiled at me recently, eyes sparkling. “It will never really be finished, because I’ll never stop dreaming!”More On