I was never any good at art. At school my mother and I would take turns to do my art homework and then snigger at the fact that we always got three out of ten.
One week I got one out of ten for a picture of my dead rabbit. ONE! I didn't draw it lying dead, obviously, though to be fair with my talents it would have been difficult for the teacher to tell. I drew it from memory, and then wrote the poignant message "I can't remember anymore. Silky died last week" on the bottom of the page.
After that outpouring of grief, what kind of teacher would give a child one out of ten? The heartlessness! What about my emotional distress?
Anyway, now I have children I am not allowed to pass on my ineptitude and cynicism about the artistic process, so I must do crafts with them. It stands to reason that I am no good at this. I moaned about it to a friend, who agreed that her children were terrible too, and to illustrate her point brought out a blue/grey wooden triptych that her eldest daughter had made, explaining how she was unhappy with the colour palette.
As a rule of thumb, if your kids are painting triptychs you don't actually have anything to complain about.
I regularly receive emails from this wonderful lady at Kids Craft Weekly, (sign up! sign up!) and I read them and I think wow, and then I archive them to come back to later and then I never do. I buy the Charlie and Lola magazine and do about a tenth of the stuff. And I feel bad about both of those things.
So I think I am the perfect person to offer the following Guide to Craft with Kids for People Who are Crap at Art.
1) Get everything ready beforehand. Do not get them started and then go into the basement to look for the Sellotape otherwise you will come back to find that one of your children has cut all of the other child's toes off with the scissors.
2) Do not put all the cardboard boxes and toilet roll tubes into the recycling box, which is standing outside in the rain, before you begin.
3) This next tip is very important. Bring your children up to be relaxed and not at all predisposed to stress. This is practically impossible but would, I am sure, prevent tearstained children sitting on the steps taking big jerky breaths because they wanted the red-handled paintbrush.
4) Keep saying: "Isn't that lovely!" even when it isn't.
5) Chill out a bit. A few years ago the Eldest Latte discovered that blue and yellow mixed together made green because I answered the phone when she was painting. Had she had my full attention, I would have told her not to make a mess by mixing up the colours.
6) Don't swear.
7) Don't expect to drink a cup of tea.
There. You are all ready now. And what a timely post, I'm sure you'll agree, when everyone is finishing off their fireworks pictures and getting ready for the onslaught of the cotton-wool snowmen.