Sunday, March 13, 2011

I Am Not An Artist...Am I?

I am certainly not an artist. Having a two-year old interested in learning the shape and form of things has taught me that. He looks at me with those big green eyes, pleading me to draw a rocket ship with his over-sized orange crayon. Nothing is more humbling. My rocket ship looks a bit like corn on the cob. But he is forgiving and asks me to draw a train instead. He claps, giddy, as I begin by drawing the engine.

He is excited about art, about creating and manipulating shapes. He draws big looping circles with his yellow crayon, clenched so tightly his knuckles are white. "Moon, mommy." A minute later it is not a moon but a planet. He does not fear the attempt at art, nor does he hesitate to reinterpret, the change. He just draws.

I take him to art class each Thursday morning. A small collection of toddlers with their moms in tow dabble in finger paint to create masks and press hand prints onto construction paper. Our children beg us to be artists with them. During the first few classes, many of us moms hesitated, content to watch over small shoulders and attempt to control the chaos that is a painting toddler. "Hey little guy, why don't you..." or "Why not try this." But toddlers resist such control; they throw tantrums when not allowed to create freely.

When did we lose this? At what point do we harness the impulse to create, to get dirty? When do we become so inhibited that we stop looking at the world with child-like glee?

Taking inspiration from some of the comments that have been posted on my recent giveaway and from a friend's recent blog post on the power of beginning, I've been reflecting recently on how I sabotage my own efforts by not jumping into my endeavors whole heartedly. I'll wait until the last possible minute to edit essays for my graduate classes. I'll let myself be backed into a corner when a tough decision looms. In essence, I try to disavow my responsibility for any failures by shooting myself in the foot before I've ever even made a mistake to begin with. I am a self sabotager.

I could learn a lot from my toddler - namely, to ditch the fear of starting things, the fear of change, and most importantly, the fear of failure. My son jumps in, heart first. Imagine what I could accomplish if I did the same.

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