The brightly colored flyer came home tucked away in my first grader’s homework folder. Normally, I ignore the PTA’s flyers…mostly pleas encouraging students to solicit their family members to buy useless and tasteless items that will somehow raise money for the school. But this was different…this was a CONTEST! An art contest, to be specific.
You see, I am admittedly THAT parent…competitive, biased, and up for any opportunity for my child to show her giftedness. My daughter is actually quite gifted in the art department, and I immediately began scheming how to showcase her talents and prove her superiority.
“So, Ellie, your school is having an art contest and you can do a painting or a collage, whatever you want! Doesn’t that sound fun!” I unashamedly solicited the help of my sister who just happens to be an art teacher. I began to set things up for my child to WIN this thing! The only catch, the art had to somehow creatively illustrate the theme, “Together We Can…”.
No first grader (I know) can conceptually come up with an idea that would illustrate something so abstract (what was it, a campaign slogan?). So, I began slyly suggesting thoughts and concepts to Ellie. “You could paint a tree, you know, like a family tree…signifying that throughout the generations, together we can make a better world.”
Blank stares of confusion.
Over the next few weeks, I tried to explain what generations were and how to paint family trees…and it all seemed ridiculous in her first grade perspective. Finally, realizing I had pushed her almost to tears with my lofty concepts, I said, “Ok, Ellie, you just paint whatever you want.”
She pushed back the tears, raised her shoulders in confidence, and began to paint. After a good few minutes, she proudly brought her work over to me. It was far from my ideological, complicated concepts…but it was perfect. It was a perfect first grader’s perspective. When all the world is in shambles, the future uncertain, the tensions of war mounting, at least together we can…paint.
People will inevitably blast their ideas and opinions at your creativity, just another chance to prove the strength of your unique perspective.