Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Childs Heart

Yesterday, when my daughter came home from school she seemed edgy and frustrated.  She wasn't herself and was snapping at everyone.  This is so not her.  She is a very timid, shy, sweet, caring little girl.  She's like a tiny butterfly who sits and observes the world around her.  In fact, it sometimes worries me that she doesn't jump into all that is going on around her, preferring to sit quietly and watch, very comfortable in her own company, a deep little thinker.  So, when she started expressing her anger at her brother for messing up her game, I knew there was something wrong.

This morning while I was sitting at the breakfast table she finally started talking.  It was something as simple as her first 'playground' incident.  Unfortunately for her, she is a lot younger than everyone else in her class, having been accelerated through Kindergarten and Grade 1 in her first year of school.  She is now a newly turned 6yo facing Grade 2.  It wasn't something my husband and I agreed to readily. Our concerns for her maturity compared to the other kids was significant. You can accelerate academics, but you cannot accelerate maturity. 

As it turned out, she had her first experience of being picked on.  The bigger kids see her as a target.  Small, quiet, shy, introverted, overly amiable, she is not one to assert herself.  The incident in the playground was nothing more than the bigger kids taking her jump-rope, but to me, they may as well have cut out her heart. As she was telling me about it, she was light-hearted and positive, saying that that they probably thought it was their jump-rope, and it was ok because she was done with it anyway. 

What do you do?  As a parent I had no idea what to say, except to listen and encourage her.  I tried to talk about being true to herself, holding onto what she knows is right, learning to stick up for herself, honoring her truth etc. etc.   But what I really wanted to do was charge down to the school and start lashing out at the big kids.  

I hate the fact that as parents we become shut out of our children's school experiences.  We stand on the sidelines, stretching to get a glimpse of what their world might be like inside the school. We piece together their day from verbal snippets they throw out to us.  We try to find words of wisdom to help them succeed, to survive, but what we're really doing is stumbling around somewhere between our own school-yard experience and theirs.

Nonetheless, she trotted off quite happily this morning as I sat at the kitchen table with my cup of tea, feeling like a crumpling, incapacitated failure. And according to my own mother, it's a feeling I'll get very used to having. Someone once told me that when your children first come into the word your heart moves to the outside of your chest and from that moment on it is destined to be battered and bruised by the realities of watching them grow up.  How true?

My husband gave me some comfort when he told me that these experiences are valuable mechanisms for growth and highly necessary in teaching us to defend ourselves.  What I hate is that she even has to have these skills.  After all, how else will she be equipped to survive as an adult if she doesn't have these experiences as a child?  (Now there's a double edged sword if ever there was one!!)

So, I thought this piece was appropriate for my rambling today.  It was inspired by the illustrations of Loren Long in the children's book "The Little Engine That Could". Loren's work is so gentle and peaceful in it's form.  His soft blending and beautiful compositions have both of my children pouring over his pictures.  For this piece I began with a light sketch in oil pastel and followed with a luscious colorful layer of Silks Acrylic Glaze.  

I'll show you some of this technique in my upcoming class "A Taste of Silks" .  Don't forget, I'm giving away a spot on this class, plus a $40 coupon card from Luminarte to spend on any of their luscious products. To enter just click here.
Thanks for checking in. xx