My husband loves to remind me that the ‘id,’ that awake and alert and oh so literal part of our inner brain, does not understand sarcasm. Not one little bit. If you were to say, “I’m so stupid” then that is what the id hears and believes.
What we understand to be true dictates our behavior and choices each day of our lives. The subconscious rules up to 96-98% of our activities on a daily basis!
I am talented in many areas. I am reminded of this when talking to friends or clients. I usually get the head shake and a, “So you write, teach, build your own websites AND [fill in the blank]? Christine, is there anything you don’t do?” To which I usually grin and say, “Plenty. Don’t ask me to work on a car. I also prefer to leave the lawn mowing, laundry and trash duties to my husband, and I can’t draw stick figures to save my life.”
The last is especially true. When it comes to putting pen or pencil to paper and creating a visual representation, I’m lost. This became a very real problem when I wanted to create an exercise on observation. Basically, I wanted to show my class participants a sketch of five children and question what they saw.
Problem #1: I needed a sketch of children.
Problem #2: I couldn’t FIND a sketch of children. Perhaps I was having a brain freeze on the subject.
Problem #3: I realized that I would have to create the sketch!
I had hit up my oldest child for such a sketch, but she was busy and didn’t get back to me. I was on my own and I NEEDED it. So I pulled out some blank paper and decided that stick people would be just fine for this exercise. As I drew, erased, corrected I realized I was being watched…intently.
I glanced over and took in my 3-year-old’s expression. She was staring at my work, a mixture of longing and wonder on her face. She so wanted to do what I was doing, but when I offered the pencil to her she shook her head. She watched me from beginning to end and I must admit, by the time I was done her attention had me feeling like the Picasso of stick figures.
This is not the first time my little one has reacted this way. Somehow, and I’m not sure how, she has become uncertain about her abilities in the drawing department. This concerns me, mainly because both my husband and I are very encouraging of her efforts.
I thought about the id and the subconscious and I have to wonder what those two aspects are telling her right now about her abilities. Does she already think, right now, that she “can’t draw?”
See, I might be the Picasso of stick figures to my child, but I know my limits. Right now, my limits are that I don’t make time to improve my sketching skills. This is a choice I have made. Having seen the evolution from scribbles to sketches in my daughter as well as in a high school classmate, I can attest that, although a knack for it helps immeasurably, but barring physical impairments, anyone can learn how to draw fairly well.
I am certain that I could learn to draw at some point if I made time for practice and learning.
Human beings are capable of so much. Most of us barely skim the surface of our potential. We live half lives because we are told that this is it, this is the way things are. We learn, just as the child who reaches towards the flame and is burned learns, to limit ourselves when reaching out into the world.
Think about that for a moment. We…limit…ourselves.
It isn’t enough to react to that statement by turning to your child and saying, “Sweetheart you can do anything you want with your life.” That is an empty sentence and an impersonator of belief in and of itself. Instead we have to encourage the thought process through questions and answers, dancing with them sideways towards their amazing futures…
“Look at how that artist painted the hands. How do you suppose he learned how to do that?”
My mother once gave me the best gift she could have given. I was talking about wanting to re-upholster a recliner and going on and on about how I just didn’t know how to do it. She said, “Honey, after all, somebody put it together, you just need to figure out how to take it apart.”
A month later I was looking at the finished product. It had turned out pretty darn good! She hadn’t told me, “Sweetie, you’re so smart, you’ll figure it out.” She had simply reminded me that the chair had been put together by somebody and I was certainly somebody who could take it apart.
- Giving our children answers doesn’t promote learning
- Providing grand promises does not help build self-esteem
Keep it real. Picasso was a person, just like you or me. Make people, things, objects and ideas real and accessible. Make them a matter of course, and less like some high ideal that can only be achieved if you can perform magic or spend 30 years in a monastery perfecting your craft.
In this way too our children can see the reality and accessibility of their dreams. They will come to believe that they are capable of so much more. Once that is achieved they can choose where they want their focus to be.