Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mother of invention

Gilat Miller wanted her kindergartener to feel loved when he was at school.
So she started personalizing his snack bags with adorable, smile-inducing designs.
(All photos courtesy of Gilat Miller) 

Imagine you're five years old and it's your first day of kindergarten. In fact it's your first day ever, in your whole life, to be apart from your family for longer than a few hours. New environment, new building, new routine, new rules and a new classroom filled with 20-some kids you have never met before. 


New Jersey mother-of-two Gilat Miller wanted her son, Kai, to know mama was thinking of him. But rather than stuffing love notes into his backpack ("He can't read yet, anyway,") Gilat employed her more artistic sensibilities and started drawing cute designs on Kai's brown paper snack bags.

Inspiration comes from the holidays, something Kai is into (robots, super heroes, rocket ships, dinosaurs), a specific after-school activity (swimming, cooking) or a special request.

"I'm not good at drawing my own stuff, so I look for ideas online," Gilat says.
"I copy what I see and sometimes make small changes."

What started as a fun, therapeutic activity quickly turned into an all-consuming, up-all-night event. "I was making them EVERY DAY and really got burnt out," Gilat says. "The drawings take up a lot of my free time in the evenings. After making lunches and everything else, I ended up going to bed at like midnight every night, and I thought that was too much."

These days, she's saving the drawings for Fridays and other special occasions.

Gilat chronicles her adventures in snack bag artistry on Facebook and the responses range from admiration ("You will be a famous illustrator by the time Kai is in first grade!") to ideation ("You should start a business in the neighborhood. I'm sure a lot of children would love to take cool-looking lunch bags to school.") to half-joking envy ("I'm going to start blocking this photo album because it makes me feel bad about myself as a mom!"). 

A few of her favorite designs:

A friendly dragon barbecues Kai's hot dog.

A bicycle with a very love-ly seat.

"I love when Kai gets excited about them and when the drawings come out nice I feel proud," she says. "I want him to look at the special bag and remember how special HE is to me!"

We think you're pretty special too, Gilat.

Gilat and her sons,
Etan, 2, and Kai, 5.