I sometimes feel like one of those Mums who thinks they know best for their child and pushes them into a particular direction.
Or . . . do I know best for my child and just won’t give up working away in their best interests?
I think the latter.
We have a 9 year old who is sensitive, empathic, intuitive and creative.
When he was big enough to hold a pencil Luca started to draw. He drew spirals round and round pushing hard into the paper. They had so much energy I could hardly look at them! I don’t think too much into these things – just that he had a lot of expressive energy.
When he could hold a paint brush Luca started to paint. His pictures evolved – first a snail, then a snake, then a train, then a washing machine – all in one picture with a running commentary! Everything was abstract – a friend was a vertical line of a particular colour and and an animal was a horizontal line. I thought this phase was amazing. Luca only painted what he felt – not what he saw.
When he was nearly 5, Luca started school. He was told to colour between the lines and that he shouldn’t have painted his man blue because men aren’t blue This was a sad time for my little expressive.
When he was 7, Luca couldn’t manage the restrictions of school any more so we bought him home. I gave him a paint brush but he didn’t want to paint. But he made little symbolic pictures to show how life had affected him in the last few years. These were his healing pictures.
When he was 8, Luca said it was babyish to paint and it was hard to encourage him to pick up a paint brush. When he did, though, he came alive and went back to his ‘feeling’ way of painting.
When he was 9, Luca decided it was really childish to paint from your feelings. He would only paint what he saw. His last painting was a table with his first attempt at perspective. He got the idea watching ‘The Big Painting Challenge’ on TV. On the table was an MP3 player. The background he left white.
When he was nearly 10, Luca refused to say or hear the words – Art, Music or Dance. I actually had to reverse the words and call them Tra, Cisum and Ecnad! He said these things were just not him and that he preferred animation and programming. I couldn’t encourage him to express his deeper self any more and so I stopped doing so.
Over the next months, Luca became fatigued and said he felt weak and ungrounded. I knew some of this was related to a visual processing condition called Irlens Syndrome but had a hunch that some of it could be that Luca was giving a lot to his projects but not really tanking himself up.
Then one day Luca asked me to do something we used to do together a lot – create a story to music with him. He said he wanted help with his energy and anxieties. We created a story about his toy sheep Tres. She was a garden designer who ended up getting very tired because she gave all she had to design beautiful gardens for other people. It turned out she had never designed a beautiful garden for herself! Luca spoke, rapped and danced to some funky music and told the story. He had a big smile on his face and his heart just seemed to open.
When we had finished though, Luca said that he was never doing that again! When I said it was the way to tank him up and fill his heart, he said “I don’t deserve to be tanked up. I guess I will always be low hearted!”
And so the journey with my mule up the mountain continues . . . !
Why have I told you this story?
It is so easy for children to start to feel that what comes from inside of them isn’t good enough. They think it isn’t as as good as what is already in the world. It is our role as parents to keep helping them to go back to who they are – their personality, their passion, their heart, their voice.
I know it is hard to keep encouraging children to paint and sing and speak and dance. You can feel like you’re trying to lead a mule up a mountain! But we do encourage our children to eat vegetables and get enough sleep and exercise. If we don’t help our children to express themselves it prevents the flow of their life force. Yes, it is good to take in but also we need to pour out.
No matter the climate, the weather or the terrain, nothing is going to stop me leading my mule up the mountain! How about you?