An ‘August’ Affair!

Engaging your child with artwork can be more effective than you ever thought. It is emotive and expressive at the same time.

August was an assault of activities. We were moving. To pack my world into boxes and bags was itself a challenge. More daunting than the previous time. On top of that, it was vacation time for my kids. With an explorer on the loose and a terrific toddler in tow, working my way through was barely feasible. I was running out of resources to fittingly engage my little one when a proposal popped up to my rescue.

I was wrapping the goodbye-gifts for our near and dear ones. I called my son. I asked him if he too would like to make ‘little somethings’ for whosoever he wanted. Just tokens of love to be presented before he parted.

He considered the suggestion for a while. After all, it meant relinquishing his extraordinary exploits in favour of sedentary and organised occupation. Somehow he seemed convinced. I think it gave him a sense of importance. Little did I gather the gravity it would gain with time.

It was our almost-next-door neighbours, an American family for whom my 10-year old wanted to make gifts, to begin with. A small family including an elderly man, his somewhat gritty wife and their grown-up nephew. My son intended to make mugs-turned-into-pen-stands for them. Apt and endearing leaving presents, I mused. While the woman was a high-school teacher, the man had recently retired and was doing voluntary service at a nearby accounting firm. The nephew was studying at a college.

The deal between us was, he would pour out his ideas. I would furnish him with the supplies. So the obvious next step was to get all the items that he required in one place. Laid out in front of his eyes, for him to use them as and how he deemed right.

I rushed to the local store and grabbed three glass mugs. Two of a kind, and the other, of another. Puffy 3D paint bottles with precision tips were at home. A little bit of hunting here and there, brought out a plethora of knick-knacks. Some pipe cleaner stems, pages of adorable stickers and a few other decorative pieces. The artist, by the way, also had a specific demand. A plastic cut-out of a scary face. What!... I thanked my stars on being able to procure one.

My son was now prepared to proceed with his project. Finally, I could do my work, unhindered and at ease. Or at least, so I thought!

It was only when my son was nearly done with his craft that he called out for my attention. I asked him to wait until I had completed the job at hand. Meanwhile, I had been able to organise quite some stuff and figure out the remainder. I was pleased with my progress. I knew I would have to sit down with my boy and listen to all that he had to say about his handwork.

A decorated glass mug with light hue colors A decorated glass mug with rainbow colors

I must admit, I was pleasantly surprised at the relatable capacity of his thoughts.
Out of the two similar-looking mugs, the first one was designed for the lady of the house. It was painted in soft hues of pink and yellow. Those colours, I suppose, he unconsciously associates with the feminine gender. On the base paint, conspicuous blobs of colour were used to make the shape of flowers. But the best thing about the mug was the cute turtle sticker that was stuck right in the middle. His explanation for using it was beautiful. The aunt, he smiled, was like a turtle. No matter how strict she appears, she is very sweet and loving, was the little human’s impression of her. The love signs on the sticker were, as if, my son’s expression of his feelings for her.

The other mug stood out due to the bold strokes of bright colours. The uncle was like that, my son claimed. This time, I failed to fathom my son’s enthusiastic explanation. But nonetheless, I was happy to see how he was handling colours to convey his comprehension of a character.

Finally, the mug which took the most care to create. It was taller than the other two. My son painted tall buildings on it. Perfect to represent the office structure where the nephew worked. And oh, my! What was there inside the mug?... The plastic cut-out of the spooky face, nicely adjusted and well placed. The story behind this, I found the most fascinating. The young man was a practical joker. He would unexpectedly appear in front of my child to scare him. Just an erratic dose of excitement and fun. The lad would be frightened, but then, he would look forward to it. When gone, the cut-out would remind the man of the moments they mutually enjoyed. I could sense the friendship that had flourished between two apparently disparate identities.

A glass mug with the cityscape painted on it

There was hardly anything left for me to do. I just had to tie up the pipe stems around the handle or at the base. A little touch up here and a frugal finish off there.

A glass mug with the cityscape painted on it A decorated glass mug with light hue colors

The first set of presents were prepared. In the days to come, every morning, my 10-year old would be standing in front of me, a mini-diary in hand. Names would be announced before he commenced his day’s duty of making more gifts. An activity that helped both of us in ways we hardly knew.

A little exercise can sometimes be very useful. As for this one, I definitely got the duration and detachment that was due. But my son! For him, it doled out a lottery of lessons. It made him calm, confident and creative. It is in the most unanticipated, rather accidental ways, we get to see our unexplored best. I had heard that. Once again, I got to experience it.

By: Promita Banerjee Nag

This article and the opinions expressed in it are personal opinions. It is not meant for imposing specific views or endorsing a particular way of life. Also please do ignore any errors or omissions that you might come across. We pledge to learn from them. Happy viewing.


  1. Beautiful glass painting... Nice content.

  2. What a brilliant way of describing the painting episode.

    If a free hand is given to the child they can do wonders.

    Hope to see frequent write-up.

  3. A well thought write up. When children are given due respect their creative thought surprises.

  4. Such corroborative comments, I'm sure, will prompt us to look for more ways and means to involve the budding minds... and marvel at the outcome as they take off! Thank you...

  5. Very sweet and heartwarming story. Brightened up my day like the colorful mugs!


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