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Zen and the art of paper wads

By Richie Ann Ashcraft

These first few weeks of preschool has awakened Marek's inner artist.

Nearly everyday he gets out the big box of broken crayons and sets to work at the kitchen table drawing all kinds of things like dinosaurs, planes, flowers and sharks.

(Sometimes I feel bad that the baby of the family has to color with broken crayons. So, I throw a new box of crayons and markers into the cart. But, a week later, half the crayons are broken and the markers have lost their lids. I give up — sorry Marek. )

He spends a lot of time making these masterpieces of scribbles. He brings them to me proudly, describing what he's drawn in great detail.

Then, he disappears for awhile. Just when I wonder where he's gone, I hear the bathroom sink running. Or maybe the kitchen sink, or the hose outside. I hide behind the door so that I can spy on him undetected. He takes his broken crayon masterpieces and runs them under water. Sometimes he folds them carefully and runs some more water on them. And when they're just right, he wads them into a soaking ball and affixes it to a door or a floor or a chair. He does it over and over again because he's perfecting the perfect paper wad.

Why? I have no idea.

The first few times this occurred I yelled at him for making a mess. But, after a few dozen more times, I decided that it was probably best to just go with it.

I mean, who am I to decide whether or not this is a worthwhile form of art? Just because it annoys me does not mean that this behavior is not serving some kind of developmental purpose in Marek's life.

What if Michelangelo's mother had told him to stop banging rocks with hammers?

Now, I help Marek wet his paper. I may give him a glass of water if it gets too annoying and I clean up the mess when he's done.

I figure, if nothing else, when he's in the middle school bathroom making paper wads and throwing them on the ceiling, I'll know that his paper wads were the best.


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You have to pick your battles right?  Paper wads seem pretty harmless and hey, if he threw several at a door then you could sell the door as “art.”

I love how weird that is. What a great kid!

The first step of creation is destruction. I think you’ve got a creative genius on your hands.

As long as he doesn’t start lobbing-off an ear, I guess I’m cool with it.

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