When my daughter took my granddaughter out of day care in September of 2010, just eight months into my retirement, I started keeping her 2 ½ days a week. I soon knew she needed to be in a pre-school program for her development and my sanity. I found a wonderful art program at Austin’s Dougherty Arts Center that met two afternoons a week and was affordable. The day we went to register, Chloe said, “What does it smell like in here?” and I said, “Art!” They were taking down an exhibit that day and the paintings were all stacked against the wall, perfect for a preschooler’s point of view. She was especially taken with a painting of a bleeding hand holding a bird with a sharp beak (she got the mystery of whether the bird caused the bleeding).
To say Chloe loved the program is an understatement. I never had to coax her to go and, as long as I left blankie with her and blew kisses the whole walk down the hall as I left, she was happy. She loved Miss Molly and Miss Gwin. The program included theater, puppetry, claymation video, and various art media. The last class day of every month was a show for the parents—a retelling of the “Three Little Pigs,” a show about bugs, shadow puppets, singing, masks, plus the claymation video set to the Beatles’ “Octopus’s Garden.” (The theme for the term was the environment and nature.) People who would cut tax-supported arts programs should visit this center to see four-year-old imaginations at work.
One of the craft projects was an “animal catcher,” a paper plate decorated with spangles and crepe paper streamers, to hang outside because it’s “what animals like.” This was in the spring of 2011. Even in Texas’ severe drought we have had the occasional storm, and the crepe paper disintegrated pretty quickly. It hung forlornly with its few remaining spangles, and I decided it was time to replace it.
Friday morning we had been in the pool only 10 or 15 minutes when Chloe was stung by a “green bug.” I didn’t see it, but the bite got red and slightly swollen, so we went inside to put cortisone on it and possibly take Benadryl. She was done with the pool for the day, with more than an hour and a half before her mom was due to pick her up.
Being a grandma who didn’t just fall off the turnip truck, I keep a “rainy day” (or insect bite) reserve of entertainment, and I had recently gone to Hobby Lobby and bought supplies for a new animal catcher–including ribbon rather than crepe paper. (I also used an acrylic seal after it was finished so it should hold up pretty well.)
A couple of paper plates stapled together + sequins + white glue + pink glitter glue + multicolored ribbon = a happy kid