The other day I held up a container of 4 Sharpies in front of the kids at the studio. I said in my best Spanish “A few days ago I put out a brand new pack of Sharpies. Together with the old ones we had over 14 in this container. Where did they all go?” Most of the kids glanced up while I was talking and continued to work. Two of them quietly and almost regretfully named Selena. They said she had a bag of them at home. I asked 8 year old Selena if she knew where they were and she denied it. Another child piped in and named Selena. Selena! I pleaded with her —The plumones live here in the studio, this is their home! Selena flashed me her adorable cheeky grin and laughed at the thought Sharpies living somewhere. Without reprimand, I tell her to bring them back, and her older sister offers to go with to make sure she brings them all.
When they return I am shocked at the the gallon size zipper bag full of gel pens and Sharpies that were clearly from the studio. Selena had even written her name on each Sharpie cap....with a Sharpie.
How did I not see the materials leaving the studio?
Selena is 8 years old and apparently very sly.
I tell her “All the materials are here for you, but they live here in the studio. If I let everybody take materials home, what will be left here for you to use to make art?”
I wonder if I need to check their bags, their shorts, their pockets when they leave.
I wonder if I need to take a more punitive approach.
For now, this works.
Most of these kids have almost nothing. I want to teach ownership and responsibility in a compassionate way.
I don’t want to shame them or punish them for wanting, but I do want it to be clear that it is wrong to take things that aren’t theirs; to be clear about stealing.
How do I deal with a sticky fingered child who comes from nothing and only wants a little something?
Who are all these kids? And how in the world did I end up in Mexico?
I am an artist and art therapist with a passion to change the the lives of kids through the power of creating art.
If you are love art and kids join me on this exciting journey. I’m sharing it all here; every hope, every uncertain moment, every sweaty step, and each small victory. —anita yeh norrie