A group of girls painted first. We pushed up sleeves, put on smocks, squeeze paint onto trays, and began to paint. I added colors as requested and soon everyone was painting with varied shades of black. My attention was diverted to another part of the room, and when I tuned back in the girls were chanting, "I'm washing my hands" as they used the finger paint for soap. Now all four girls looked like they were wearing mottled gloves, paint covering all of their hands up to and maybe even a little past the wrists.
When done, the girls moved to the sink to wash hands. That's when I discovered that at least 2 girls got paint on their sleeves (that were still pushed up almost to their shoulders) and covered the front of their smocks with paint, too. When I moved the trays to wash them, the table had paint everywhere. That's when the realization came to me - my girls are messy. Messy and exuberant.
A little later, a group of boys hit the art table to finger paint. They rolled up sleeves, donned smocks, and jumped into with all fingers. The boys got paint only on their palms and fingers (but not the backs of their fingers). One boy kept insisting that I push up his sleeves when they moved a millimeter. When the painting ended, no paint on the table or any smocks. And all the sleeves were pristine. My boys were much more deliberate about how they painted.
It was an interesting observation, a difference from what I usually observe. And a reminder that I don't need to push any particular description on a child based on just demographics. Each child is unique and interesting and his (or her) own person.
And I wouldn't want my kids any other way!
All photos by R. Scott Wiley