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Help, Please: Sage Raval of Small Shop

Chief Correspondent and new mom SuChin Pak finds out how other moms parent

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Meet Sage Raval: artist, educator, mother, and founder of SmallShop, an L.A.-based in-home art service for families that takes your brood beyond macaroni necklaces. After one session with Sage, your (already exceptionally talented) mini DaVinci will be making masterpieces. I love her decidedly sophisticated, yet fun, approach to kids’ art, so I wanted to know more about how she personally approaches this whole parenting thing.
— SuChin Pak

You must have the best job ever. What are the pluses and minuses of being a roaming art teacher?
The positives: I get to be a part of a child’s creative process and encourage him/her to take risks. I get hugged at work and I have nurtured relationships with my students and families that I treasure. The drawbacks: I am always on the go — my car is a portable art studio and rarely clean. Since I am teaching children, the best time for their lessons directly lines up with when my kiddos are home from school, and I miss a bit of mom time. And forget about a manicure: These nails are spotted with paint.

How should parents nurture their kids’ inner artists?
Set them up for success by creating a space where they can get messy, give them great supplies, help them when they need it, and keep it fun and light. And then drill “There are no mistakes in art” into their heads.  

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What are some good first projects?
1. Get a big canvas and let them paint whatever they want. Use that same canvas over and over and over again, so they see the freedom in painting over something, changing it, and not being so precious with their art.
2. Chalk is awesome, goes anywhere, and cleans up quickly. When they are really little, you do not want to worry about whether the supplies are safe, can stain, or will destroy your furniture. And that’s why chalk is rad. 
3. I liked to play art games in which I start a drawing and they finish it. And then we trade off. It is nice to show them that their “scribble” can turn into something. This is great at a restaurant while waiting for food.
4. Teach them shapes — the base of everything — and then mix them together and see what you can make. And always add an eye. Even the craziest drawing becomes the most adorable creature with just an eye.

What’s the one art tool you can’t live without? 
This is a hard one, but I think that I will start with the base: Bristol paper. It is the perfect weight for any media; it’s smooth and looks crisp.

What was your “Whoa, I’m a parent” moment?
I have one every day. Whoa, I’m a parent: Is that a booger on my iPad? Whoa, I’m a parent: I left the house again without showering. Whoa, I’m a parent: My 7-year-old just had a teenage peer-pressure meltdown. Whoa, I’m a parent: My 4-year-old just told me he loves me to the moon. Whoa, I’m a parent: 9 p.m. is the new midnight and 7:30 a.m. is sleeping in.

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Last big parenting fail: When I started bribing my kids with candy. I just could not take another day of whining.

Last big parenting success: Helping our 7-year-old daughter cope with the peer pressure of the “cool kids” on the playground who were cussing and calling out those who wouldn’t.  

How did you help her? The initial start of our conversation with our daughter was about using the word “gay,” and then it went into the notorious F-bomb. We explained to her that we know that it’s hard to not do what the other kids do, but that she must not say that because it’s mean. We helped her come up with comebacks she can say on the playground to keep her “cool” with the kids, while remaining thoughtful and kind — and not get busted by the teachers. Like: “That is so ridiculous” and “That is so yesterday.”

Best advice for friends without kids: Please be nice to parents, especially on planes. We know our kid is crying and we are horribly embarrassed and want it to stop, too.

Your kid(s) are writing a book about you. What’s the title? My Messy Mama.

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Rule you never break: Everyone needs to be fair and respectful. This goes for kids and adults alike.

Your biggest vice: A midday bath and the chocolate bar that I have stashed in the fridge.

Thing you miss most since having kids: Sleep and the freedom to do what I want, when I want.

Thing you miss least since having kids: Loneliness. I always have someone that I adore — and who adores me — within arm’s reach.

Parenting habit you swore you’d never do, but now do frequently: Television.

Bedtime read: Shel Silverstein.

Mealtime accessory: Real utensils — they have to learn to use them.

On your DVR:
Modern Family makes me laugh. New Girl gives me a mental break. And Girls makes me feel really good about my life.

On your bedside table: My morning coffee cup I forgot to bring to the kitchen.

Know a parent we should feature in Help, Please? Give us a tweet @dailycandykids and @suchinpak.

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Photos: Biz Urban Photography for DailyCandy