I took a small ceramic plate and made five separate globs: red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and purple.  I put it in between two boys who each had a sheet of construction paper.  We’ve done this before – we do this often.  Painting with brushes, sponges, fingers — none of it is new.  But this time, Scott decided to lay his entire hand on the globs of paint at one time.  With glee, he smeared his hand over his yellow construction paper and exclaimed at the fact that the colors all mixed together made brown.

“Like mud!”

Grabbing one of the cars that is never far from his reach, he made “vroom vroom” noises and sent the car mud bogging.

Then he froze and looked at me kind of apprehensively, as if he might get in trouble for this amazing imagination he was showing.

I just smiled and kissed his forehead and said, “Is the car getting dirty?”

“Yes!  In the mud!  Vroom! Vroom!

Sometimes, you just have to let them make the mess.

It’s not like finger paint isn’t designed to be easily wiped up.

It’s not like hands and chests and cheeks and hair can’t be washed.

Because that car drove through the mud until the paint dried.

And my little 4-year-old had one of the most fun half hours he’s had of quiet color time.


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