There are two budding artists living at our place. You can’t put it down to genetics because neither the husband nor I have an artistic bone in our bodies. The four year old confines herself to the production of ghoulish smiling faces and chicken scratches that resemble the pictographs of a semi-comatose language. Our 10 year old, with the benefit of experience and genuine talent, is a prolific doodler. She doodles happily along the borders of workbooks, exercise books and any scrap of paper that hasn’t gone the way of the recycling bin. Her handiwork is almost always far superior to anything I’m able to come up with in a furious game of Pictionary.
There’s something inherently fascinating about watching children express themselves artistically even when they lack the finesse of a mature hand. Even when they transgress the boundaries of good taste and acceptable behaviour, a parent not entirely made of stone, can appreciate the effort before slathering cream cleanser over the result.
I spent a little time yesterday cleaning up the wall art at our place. I don’t remember having to do it more than twice for daughter no #1. I remember, however, throwing a fit the first time graffiti made an appearance at our place. That feels like eons ago. Since then, I’ve resigned myself to cleaning walls when my tolerance levels reach their limits. Hence, the moral of the story one learns as a mum is that every child is different… to varying degrees.
Differences can be fun and enriching. But more often than not, they’re challenging. Just when you get used to one child… another one comes along and turns everything that you’ve learnt on its head. Well, almost everything . This is when mums (and dads too) need finesse… which is really a fancy word for an old fashioned concept, the bible calls “wisdom”.
Maybe I’m becoming a tad wiser because I’m learning to appreciate the differences in our girls. One’s a daydreamer and an extrovert so she’s warm-hearted and friendly but needs a lot of pushing er… encouragement. The other is strong-willed and independent. The upside of that is that she’s game to do things on her own and less afraid of taking risks. The downside, of course, is having to deal with this wall of obstinance that we have to chip away at constantly.
Accepting that they’re different is the first step to freedom in parenting. It means you can move on and do what is necessary to “train up a child in the way that he should go”.
God, in his sovereignty, has given us the children that we have, not only for their training but ours also. But more importantly so that even in our feeble efforts, we can and will bring honour and glory to his name.
Publicity Officer, Southside International MOPS, QLD