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The Zen of the Aquadoodle

Chiara received an “Aquadoodle” for her birthday from Grandma Mary Ann and Popi Neil this week. Basically this is a mat that comes with a special pen that allows kids to draw with water. It even includes little step-by-step instructions on how to create cats and dogs and houses. The beauty of this, for parents at least, is that kids can’t draw on the carpet or couch or counters because the pen, which is loaded with water, works only on the Aquadoodle mat.

I watched as Chiara and Olivia sat there drawing hearts and lines and happy faces. Then, within a few minutes, the drawings began to fade. As soon as I saw it, all I could think of are those Buddhist monks who spend hours, sometimes days, creating sand mandalas only to sweep them away after they are complete, dismantling their own hard work in a fraction of the time it took to create it.

Now maybe that concept is a little esoteric for the preschool set, but there is something very Zen-like about a toy that encourages children to perfect a little drawing only to watch it disappear moments later. It’s a lesson in detachment, one that certainly would come in handy during the school year when the kids come home with backpacks filled with papers that accumulate on countertops and end tables until I judiciously file the “keepers” in the art box and bury the rest in the trash when no one is looking.

Imagine working hard on something — painting a picture, knitting a sweater, creating a scrapbook — only to have it vanish into thin air right after you finished it. I’m thinking of writing my next blog post on the Aquadoodle just to see how it feels, only you’ll never get to read it. If a blog entry disappears before uploading, does it make a sound?

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