My grandson Dylan has really gotten in to painting since he began preschool. When he brought home several of his works of art the other day I asked him if I might have a couple to hang up on the refrigerator so we could all enjoy and admire them. He very seriously sorted thru them and gave me two. "What are they?" I asked. One, he told me, was a turkey. The other was Lightning McQueen with a hat on his head. Hmmmmmm...as I looked them over I couldn't have agreed with him less but they weren't my paintings. What right did I have to suggest, "No, no...isn't that one a fish in the sea? And that one a red pepper?" Why are we adults so insistent upon trying to influence the creativity of our children...or, in my case, our grandchildren? How often do we squelch that creative flair they possess by trying to force our perception of what is and what isn't?
I know bowling isn't a creative art but my dad was an avid bowler, belonging to several leagues and participating in many competitions during his life. One thing we shared was our left-handedness. When I was around 10 or 12 he decided he was going to teach me how to bowl and I was quite willing to learn. We went to the small alley in my hometown and he showed me how to hold the ball, where to stand, then let me launch off several balls. I thought I was doing quite well...some of the pins went down! But no, no..."Here, let me show you how to do this," my dad said, and he began positioning my arm this way and that, telling me when to release the ball, when to do this, how to do that. As I began rolling gutter ball after gutter ball, getting more and more tense as I tried to please him, more and more frustrated when I didn't, I finally burst in to tears and told him I didn't want to do it anymore. It ended up being such a stressful experience for me it killed off any interest I'd had in learning the sport.
I have tried to keep that memory close to the surface while raising my kids and helping in raising my grandkids. Whenever the urge comes over me to barge right in and tell them they need to do it my way...I remember that day with my father. I remember how badly I felt when I couldn't perform to his satisfaction. And then I back off. I tell them it's beautiful...it's a job well done...I love it!
And it is!