Our son is a pretty brave kid when it comes to things like going to the doctor, starting a new school, or running around and being a daring and active little youngster. But he has a bit of a fear of the dark. And people in costumes. And talking to people he doesn’t know. (Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, by the way. He won’t even talk to strangers when Mom and Dad are with him!) With Halloween approaching, he has mixed feelings. He gets excited about dressing up in his own costume and getting candy, of course, but he isn’t crazy about walking around in the dark, amongst other strange and scary people in costumes, and having to talk to strangers at their door in order to get the candy. It does sound a bit creepy from his point of view!
Today, we did a little “magic trick” that you may have seen or done with your children before, but we put a little Halloween monster twist on it. And we used the opportunity to talk about how monsters are imaginary, that they are just creatures that people have created in their minds, and that he will be perfectly safe going Trick-or-Treating on Wednesday with Mom and Dad and baby brother. Sometimes a light-hearted activity mixed with a more serious talk can help to let your child relax. And hopefully, they will open up and learn in the process of both.
Here is our MONSTER, GO AWAY! magic trick for kids:
What you need:
- coffee filters
- washable markers
- a bowl of warm water
- newspaper (for easy cleanup!)
How to make the magic happen:
- Lay out newspaper, and put out all of the materials on top. Give your child a coffee filter (and one for yourself, if you like! Who says these ideas are only fun for kids?!) and ask them to draw a MONSTER on their coffee filter, and tell them that you’re going to help them make that monster disappear! My son was skeptical. But he started to draw anyway.
- While your child is drawing, it may be a good time to bring up any fears that they have about monsters, or costumes, or bedtime, etc. I opened our conversation with, “So what do you think about monsters? Are they silly? Funny? Scary?” And let your child be the guide of the conversation. Try to keep it as light-hearted as possible. This is supposed to be a fun activity, but also a chance to reiterate that monsters are only something we create in our minds.
- When your child is finished making their monster, ask them to soak, swirl, and dunk him in the bowl of water. Encourage them to be silly with it, swirling and swishing for thirty seconds or so, and let them shout at him. “Go away, MONSTER!” “Goodbye, Monster!” or as my son said, “This is for your OWN GOOD, MONSTER!!”
- After thirty seconds or so, tell your child to take the monster out of the water and give him a big, strong squeeze!
- Ask your child to open up their coffee filter, and watch him gasp! “He’s gone!” 😉
I hope you and your children have a happy, safe, (even if a little scary) Halloween!!
If I gave you a mirror, a pencil, some crayons, and a piece of white paper along with the instructions to draw a picture of yourself, what would you draw? If it were me, I would start with the basic shapes. I would trace the oval outline of my head, then my neck, and then my square, broad shoulders. I’d outline my eyes, making them large, round, and brown. I’d add a nose, slightly long and wide and a bit pointy at the end. I’d add small, thin lips with just a touch of pink, along with thick, reddish-brown eyebrows, and brown freckles dotting my peach-colored face all over. I’d add ears, but then cover them with reddish-brown hair, flowing downward in wavy strands and coming to rest just past the tops my shoulders. If I were to add the rest of my body to the paper, it would be somewhat short, with a boxy, athletic (although not very toned) shape. And finally, I would add a black “Rise Against” T-shirt and a pair of grey gym shorts (ready for a workout after I blog).
Would your process be similar to mine? Some might add a background. Their home? Their family? Their job? Their pets? Maybe some would draw their favorite hobbies such as a book in hand, or sitting at a computer, or going for a hike in the woods.
How do you picture yourself?
My son was faced with this assignment during his first art class in his first week of school. Here is what he came up with:
He got all of the essentials in there (except, where did his ears go?). His blonde hair was spiked up with gel that day, and he captured his big blue eyes and adorable smile. He put five fingers on each hand and five toes on each foot. As his background, he surrounded himself in a place of happiness: his own backyard with his dog (our dog is three-legged), his cat, trees, grass, a blue sky, and the sun shining down on him as he plays. But if you look at his torso, he added something that never would have occurred to me to put into my own self-portrait: his heart. When he pulled his self-portrait out of his backpack to show me, the heart was one of the first things I noticed, and I was taken aback by its presence.
I pointed to the heart, and I asked him, “Can you tell me about this?”
“It’s my heart,” he said. Plain and simple.
“Could you see your heart in the mirror?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “But I just wanted to draw it.”
There are other things in his portrait that he couldn’t see in the mirror, but those things I didn’t question. The things he put in his background didn’t make my heart swell or the gears in my brain start turning. I probably would have surrounded my self-portrait with things that I enjoy as well. But I never would have included my heart.
Would you have thought to put your heart in your self-portrait?
As a parent, I have found that my son often teaches me much more than I can teach him. Sure, I may have more knowledge, but give him enough time, and he will accumulate the same knowledge and then some. The day he brought home his self-image on paper, with his heart so bold and evident, he made me wonder: what happened to my own heart? Why would I leave out something so vital to my life and my well-being? To him, it wasn’t something profound or deeply thought about. It was just there. It was his heart. It was a part of him. It needed to be expressed just as much as his eyes or nose or mouth. And yet, to me, his simple art project has shaken me to a thought: I give love to those around me, but am I keeping enough for myself?
Had I drawn a picture of my children and husband or doodled their names onto paper, I probably would have surrounded them in cute little hearts. I show my love for them (although not always as much as I should), and that is important. But we need to keep a little bit of that love and continually pour it onto ourselves. I’m not talking about being selfish or self-centered, but to have self-love and confidence. We need to love ourselves so much, that you can see that love when we look at ourselves in the mirror. If we can do that, if we can keep our hearts showing through to the outside, then it’s almost impossible not to give love to the people around us. We need to find a way to preserve that childlike self-love, so that our children will never lose theirs.
<;3 Make your heart show today. <;3