This is the image I must try and keep in my mind to sum up yesterday. And not the image of my first Ginger with black poster paint on it. It has had one wash already, has soaked in soda crystals overnight, and is currently doing a second cycle in the washing machine. Fingers and toes crossed.
What kind of an idiot doesn't bother to change out of her favourite new skirt before allowing her youngest child access to some black poster paint? This idiot.
In my defence, I hadn't started the day with the intention of doing any messy play as such. There was the shopping to be done as a matter of some urgency, due to the discovery that we were completely out of cat food, at the point that the cat was hovering at my feet with an increasing sense of `When will the dopey owners take the hint I am hungry?' look about her. And, less urgent, but with more gratification upon completion, the middle girl needed a new seat making for her toy pushchair. She had wheeled her battered old pushchair frame to the park and back yesterday, despite the fact she could not sit a toy in it as there was no seat for the toy to sit. What had happened to the previous seat? I honestly have no idea. Possibly broken and then removed and mysteriously vanished - who knows.
So the pushchair seat was made. I was an instant hero in the eyes of my four year old. I let her, and her little sister, take their pushchairs to the supermarket. I reckoned they generally behave more responsibly when they feel they are in charge of their `babies' and wheeling them about the place - I gambled right, and, the pair of them, along with their big sister (who had settled quite happily for being allowed to take her newly acquired Barbie with her) were happy throughout the big food shop. Hurrah.
Cat fed, as I unpacked the rest of the shopping, on a whim, I threw an empty tea bag box in the direction of the middle girl. She absolutely loves setting up treasure hunts at the moment, and I suggested she might like to use some silver foil to turn the box into a treasure chest. Cutting and sticking are her favourite things to do, and so, for the second time in a morning, I was a hero in her eyes.
Cue instantaneous "Can I have a box too?", and cries of "That's not fair" when no appropriate box could be found. And that is the story of how yesterday turned into a day of creativity and mess. Triumph and disaster. It was like spinning plates.
The inspiration for these sock creatures came from watching Super Scrimpers the night before. I hadn't planned on making them with my girls as such, but the idea popped into my head at the point I was hunting for something to distract the other two so the middle girl could make her treasure box in peace. Needless to say, they loved making these quirky toys - and predictably, the middle girl soon switched from pirate accessories to monster making. The younger two enjoyed choosing what to use and telling me where to put all the bits and pieces, before doing the stuffing part themselves. The biggest girl pretty much managed to make her `bunny monster' herself, with help getting started at each stage, and she is now very pleased with herself. I would definitely recommend this activity as something to try with small children - and it costs next to nothing, as I am sure most households containing children in them have plenty of odd socks and random crafty junk lying around. We used an old pillow for the stuffing (as recommended on the TV programme), and it worked out nicely.
They were all pretty happy for quite a long period of time (and are again playing some sort of game with their sock monsters as I type this) - but it was a bit tiring keeping up with the different requests each artist had, as they moved from one project to the next. I thought I had pulled a stroke of genius in allocating the painting area to be in the garden - well away from carpets and so on. And the plan worked. The youngest is still pretty much in the phase of using one colour of paint, and was at one point seen frantically painting an empty egg box black. And then, somewhere between coming back through the garden from a spot of Bradley Wiggins style time trialling out the close at the back of the house, and coming in to stir a risotto for tea, the black poster paint appeared on the bottom of my skirt.
Today we are going to the park, where there will (hopefully) be no poster paint in sight.