I do kid crafts. Sometimes I do them without kids.
My latest big idea was a Leap Year Day with a frog theme. (Get it? Leap? Frog? I found this grand idea surfing around the Internet.)
I planned to make a time capsule out of a Pringles can, green construction paper and various cheap decor. The idea was to put mementos from the lives of my kid and the kids of my friend Billie Jo into the capsule. We’ll store it and check it again on the next leap year in 2020. (Egad, that feels way beyond a space age year.)
There was only one problem.
My kid wasn’t in the slightest bit interested. Neither was my friend’s boy. They both would rather bounce off the walls and fight over possession of various toy trucks than make a craft.
I didn’t let this stop me. I made my own parts for the time capsule. My friend and her two girls had a good time with me as we made handprint frogs and decorated the capsules.
This is one of the beauties of being an older mother with another older kid who also has no interest in crafts — I’ve learned not to depend on the interest of 5-year-olds for my own joy.
I reminded myself of this lesson recently as I started to fret over the submissions I made a few months back. I waited patiently for a response for about a month, and then I began to get antsy. When would they get back to me?
Worse, this impatience started to stall me out on the projects I was doing.
I remembered leap day and thought maybe writing and other life arts are an awful lot like doing crafts with kids who may not have any interest in playing your games.
I make the stuff. I put it out there. And then I make more.
Maybe others will be interested. Maybe they would rather fight over their possessions, bounce off the ways , or do some other surfing on the internet. Whatever they choose to do, if I keep my head and my heart in my work, I win.
Neil Gaiman had something to say along these lines. He once tried a project only for the money and it failed. Here is what he shared in a commencement speech I love:
“I decided that I would do my best in the future not to write books just for money. If you didn’t get the money then you didn’t have anything. If I did the work I was proud of and I didn’t get the money, at least I’d have the work.”
― Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art
And I would say that you can substitute the word ‘money’ with ‘approval’ or ‘the interest of others.’
I don’t know if my frog party was ‘good art.’ But it sure was fun. I’d do it again even if I were the only one at that party.
And I guess that’s what I do every morning I wake up and make my art, good or not.