| January 25, 2015 | 0 Comments | Busy in Bristow

busyinbristow-1Last night, as I channel surfed, I ended up finding Globetrekkers on PBS. Its focus was the Art Trail on the French Riviera, and as I oohed and ahhed, I noticed I had company: Youngest Daughter, who – with her Magna Doodle on her lap – was busily drawing pictures as she watched images of Matisse, Picasso and Chagall flash across the screen.

Earlier that day, Youngest Daughter had played basketball – something she started last year when she saw her older brother try out and asked if she could jump in. This is her second year, and it’s the only activity that’s been “hers” until now.

This is my Tag Along Kid, and her favorite thing in the world is art. She drew in the bleachers of William and Mary Hall and Temple University while Oldest Son competed in gymnastics. She drew in the restaurant while I chatted with my friend because the other kids were already at their activities or on playdates. She drew in the car while we chauffeured her siblings to flag football, cheerleading, and chess.

Sure, early on when I saw how much she enjoyed art and how good she was at it, I searched for classes, but most of what I found required her to be six or older. Would she have drawn as much if, convinced she’d needed her own activities, I’d signed her up for the Mom and Me classes the twins took? Would she have learned how to create perspective and 3D figures if I’d had her busy, instead, tumbling at the Freedom Center?

Finally – next weekend, she starts the activity we’ve been waiting for: a Saturday Enrichment Program for Art. For years, as I knowingly neglected the extra-curricular development of my youngest daughter, consumed in the activities the rest of us had already committed to, she developed her own talent.

She drew non-stop … on her Magna Doodle, on any paper I left lying around, on scratch pieces of paper in my purse, in her art pad, and at school, when she’s given an assignment that includes art and writing, she regularly does detailed illustrations without any words.

Lucky for us, Prince William County Schools has an excellent art program, and she’s been receiving instruction since Kindergarten, taking what she’s taught, practicing, improving, and independently trying new and more difficult things.

In addition to what she was offered at school, we nurtured her love of art at home. Bought her supplies, made her own table where she could work, encouraged her efforts, and praised her.

True, sometimes when she was younger, I wouldn’t let her paint as often as she wanted to because it was messy and needed supervision. Now that she’s older, she can do whatever she wants with watercolor, but she still chooses to draw most of the time … with simple pen and paper.

For years, I felt guilty about not doing more for her, but it turns out what we did was enough. Perhaps that’s because a true passion – one you’re born to do – cannot be so easily stunted. And maybe, just maybe, it’s harder to mess up – as a parent – than I’d feared.



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