Sunday, September 9, 2012

When A Mother is Wrong and Has to Tell Her Child...

Violet is my fast child:
works fast,
does school fast,
wants to be first and wants to be done
so she can do whatever it is that she wants to do.
This sometimes presents problems with neatness...
and art projects.

Sometimes, I just have to slow her down,
and make her listen and redo.

Recently, the fair brought up opportunities to do some

She took her paper canvasses and disappeared into her room to create some masterpieces.
She was gone for quite a while,
 so I knew she was really trying to do something up there.

I wasn't quite sure what to think of them when she showed them to me.
She had actually tried to copy two things that I had painted,
which should have been very flattering to me;
but they were,
 how should I put this...
they were struggling attempts and I'd wished she had tried something
from a real picture.
"We're not going to enter those two pictures in the fair.
I'll show you these art books and let you pick something,
 and I'll teach you a bit about drawing
as you work on it."

"But why?" Violet's eyes were a mix of disappointment and frustration.

"Because the ones you did are okay, but I think you could do better
and this art book with illustrations for each step would help you."

"But I copied your paintings.  I thought you'd be impressed,"
 she mumbled as she slouched in her chair.
I could see her mood had turned from excitement about her work
to somber tolerance of my opinion.

I wasn't sure if I was doing what was right.
How do you encourage a child but still be honest?

Certainly, a child can benefit from some extra instruction
when the need is as obvious as it was to me looking at her pictures.

She paged through the art books I gave her
and settled on a horse.
I knew it was going to be a tough one,
but I didn't want to frustrate her further.

I explained to her how to start and demonstrated on my paper
and then she started to try on her own.

A few minutes later,
I came back to check and noticed that a good portion of the center of the page
had been roughed away from her erasing it.

A few minutes later,
and she told me she wasn't going to enter any drawings in the fair.

I felt sorry for her,
for her sad countenance,
but I had other things to attend to and didn't know what else to say or do,
so I moved on to something else;
but it bothered me because I didn't know what was the right thing to do.

As we did our schoolwork the next day,
I realized we had not done any art lessons yet given in her curriculum
because of all the extras we were doing for the fair;
so I opened the book
and started to read the lesson to her as she worked on her cursive letters.

"Lesson # 1: A Lesson in Frustration"

It's always funny to me when it seems as if God is watching me
and He sees my needs,
even though, sadly to say, I don't even mention them to him.
He's like the father/friend who is standing, watching as our day transpires,
smiling at the attempts we make
and showing us where we need to mop up some of the messes.

As I read the words, I felt such pleasure,
a happy feeling that the words I had been too uneducated to know
were there for me, to correct my lack of knowledge on the situation.

The first few sentences pointed to the fallacy that I had believed:
that perhaps Violet is just not talented in art,
 so I really shouldn't bother too much with it with her.
The page said that art is actually a learned discipline:
the more one practices, the better he will become.

"Throughout all of history, artists have become frustrated with their artwork.
The great Renaissance artist, Michelangelo, destroyed many pieces of his artwork
out of frustration...."
(God and the History of Art by Barry Stebbing)

It goes on to list other famous artists like Monet
 who felt terribly frustrated at his inability to create "masterpieces"
and felt appalled by his own works;
 and Frederick Remington who,
even in the end of his life,
was not satisfied and destroyed 50 of his paintings.

It was encouraging.
Funny how a person's mistakes and the fact that you think they do everything
so well, when actually they have struggled with feelings of discouragement,
can actually encourage another who is standing in those same trenches of frustration.
We all go through hardships.
We just don't see them all:
 sometimes we only see the rainbow at the end of somebody's storm.

The words from the book seemed to wash away the gloom that Violet felt about her "inabilities."

The project for the day was to draw a piece of artwork with her mouth,
as the quadriplegic artist Joni Erickson Tada does,
so as to appreciate the determination and skill she took to learn to create art.

I joined Violet in her attempt to draw the simple butterfly they had illustrated,
and I think the humor that my drawing was nearly as indistinguishable as hers
made the situation light
and we laughed at ourselves.

That night as Violet slept,
I rescued the drawings she had worked so patiently on.
I found mats to fit them and backed them with the required cardboard.

As we left to take our things to the fair,
I handed her the drawings.
"I think you should enter these."

She smiled.
But her smile was only a fraction of the smile that she had on her face
after we had entered our things at the fair.
While I tagged the items with a worker, she was chatting with another adult in the line.

"Mommy, that lady that was talking to me is an art teacher.
She looked at my drawings and said that they were very good for my age."


 My thankfulness for this stranger's comments,
 the art curriculum's encouragement,
and knowing that God arranged all these things to help me out in a situation that I had been
wrong about,
forced me to smile back and say,

"Well, if she told you that, then they must be pretty good;
she's obviously somebody who knows a lot more about it than I do."

And, quite frankly, I am glad that she did.

(These illustrations were from a project that Violet completed for her room.
The fair pictures, sadly, were in a hurry to get to the fair and did not have their
day of glory behind the camera yet.
I will take the camera to the fair when we go this week).

Linking up to: 


  1. Such a sweet story! Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs in the world; we tend to second-guess ourselves constantly. You did good, though, and were able to turn the situation around beautifully. Kudos!

  2. One of the great things about being a mom is wall those valuable lessons we learn.

    And I feel like giving that art teacher a hug.


  3. what a great story! i have a "fast" child as well. and sometimes when we paint ceramics, she just blobs on the paint so she can be finished. painting slow strokes and waiting for coats to dry isn't her thing. but i've come to accept that - after the items are fired - they have a beautiful texture that is just perfect.

  4. I tell ya. Motherhood is not for the faint of heart!

    So many little time!

    I WAS the fast child and my middle Grandlittle takes after my son in that aspect as well.

    I love this story...and I can totally relate to what you shared here.

  5. I had one of those "back up, mama, you were WRONG!" moments today with my 4 year old daughter. Had to apologize and ask her forgiveness. Those times are not easy at all, but His grace is enough!

    New follower from Titus 2sdays,
    Jill @


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