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Sunday, November 14, 2010

children's art and work as indicators

I’ve always encouraged our daughters to write and draw what’s in their hearts and if they don’t want anyone else to see it, that’s perfect and to hide it somewhere safe. However, sometimes when straightening up stray pieces of art or writings come my way and I quickly grab them knowing that they don’t mind if I read them and also aware that they are like pictures of where our girls are mentally and spiritually and they are good tools.
The other day I picked a rough draft of a story off the floor and was surprised to find it was one written by one daughter, but a close replica of one our other daughter had written. As I read it through I was suddenly struck wondering, is our eldest feeling slightly overshadowed by her sister that she wants to copy her work?
We’ve been making a big deal about our youngest daughter. She has been very introverted for her young years, but her writing of stories and songs, her singing, her imagination, blows me away constantly. Since turning 7 this year, she’s really come into her own.
However as I sat there, re-reading this story I started to ponder on other copying situations I’ve been seeing lately. I talked about it with my husband and we came to the conclusion. The balance of self esteem was shifting and we needed to build up on the other side now.
It’s so easy to box our children in. We get a picture of who they are, what they are good at, what they aren’t, and how they act, firmly planted in our minds, and if we’re not careful we lose so many opportunities to get to know them better.
After the story incident, which neither daughter knows took place, we’ve been making a point to let our eldest explore herself more, to be praised more, pointing out things she’s done well as well as encourage her to try out different things, and make more choices. She’s stayed up late a few nights, came down for snacks and mom and dad time. We’ve made her feel welcome to try out some other things too, including singing and being recorded, which is what her sister loves to do.
She had her first session today, and after years of us saying “she’s the dancer’ we were amazed to find she had perfect pitch. She also loved every minute of it and the satisfaction in her eyes was priceless. With just a little bit of effort in noticing indicators of possible jealousy, or dis-satisfaction, and then to follow our instincts on it, we re-found the balance and you can tell our eldest is back in her own again, feeling herself and not copying anyone.
You can tell balance is restored, by one look in her eyes, by the play she partakes in, by the pictures she draws and the words she writes… oh yeah, also by the fact she’s not asking every few minutes to play computer games to zone out in front of in order to escape.
I hope our daughters one day choose to keep a diary and I promise to never read it. But for now, drawings and a few writings left here and there are like gifts from the gods, tools offered to help me help themselves.

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