On Tuesday Elli decided it was time to go make pictures on the sidewalk with chalk. We wandered outside and sat on the pavement with a bag of popcorn, a stuffed dog, and a box of chalk for about 30 minutes.
We drew a tree with multicoloured leaves, an angry face, a 6 sided die, a sword and a couple of suns. It was a nice time though I honestly had more fun watching the reactions of the people walking by than I did making the pictures themselves. The usual scenario was a couple where a man would step on one of the pictures and a woman that would scold him mercilessly for doing so; not that stepping on them did any damage but the disrespect for cuteness was unacceptable.
What really got me was how happy this seemed to make everyone. I'm sure there were a few people who walked around us without really paying any attention to what we were doing and a few who thought we were being vandals or somesuch but there were a tiny minority; mostly everybody who saw us smiled and seemed genuinely happy to see me and my daughter out covering the sidewalks in badly drawn pictures.
There is some very deep seated appeal to a happy child creating things with a loved one. If I was doing this myself I doubt very much I would get anything like the same response. Presumably it triggers memories of good times with parents or children in each observer's own life and gives them a bit of good association buzz. Regardless it seems like a wonderful thing to do with a kid. You get a lot of fun which sticks around for a little while but the artwork eventually fades away instead of clogging up your closet. I like that, especially because it seems to make the people walking by so happy as a nice side benefit.