I had no idea. Wait, let me back up. I have two daughters….one is very artistic, one is very analytical. I myself am an artist, therefore, I “get” the messy, often scattered, loopy sometimes, naive, artsy one. The other…well, let me just say that she is what God gave me when I prayed for patience because Lord knows that she tests me enough and gives me situations enough to learn patience from. Can I get an AMEN!
The analytical one, the brilliant math wizz, the one who would rather sort the crayons by color code and size rather than actually use one, the extreme child, the all or nothing kid, the love hard and fight harder sibling, the dry sense of humorous one, the emotional mess of a girl and I had the night together. alone.
You would think that after 8 years of her existence on earth I would know what to do with her when we have an evening alone. But the truth is……I don’t (I know….mothers everywhere are gasping). My daughter and I aren’t alike. not. even. close. And while I have a soft spot for her, love her like no other, like only a mom could, I’m a little nervous when it comes to spending “quality time” together which normally means “quality control” and “behavior modification” lessons somewhere down the line……mostly for me. This is when I said in my I know what we can do for fun voice, “Let’s paint!” Normally this is filled with the comparison of “I’m not as good as my sister,” and “she’s so much better” and “it’s not right”, and “I can’t” and, and, and. Throw a little anxiety in the mix and you have the makings for a perfect storm.
“OK, but what I’d really like to do mommy is paint a BIG canvas”. Well, OK I thought. I have BIG canvases that I have never used. As a matter of fact, I’m donating a painting to a local organization that benefits kids. Since it’s for kids, I would love it if she had a hand (no pun intended) in it. I thought to myself that she could paint uninhibitedly on a BIG canvas, and I would just paint over it. The more she could paint on it layer by layer, the more texture I would have to work with.
I wish you could have seen her giant eyes that said, “My mom has lost it, but I’m not telling her because I really want to paint that” when I brought out the canvas that was nearly bigger than she was. Since I knew I was painting over it….
THERE WAS NO EXPECTATIONS.
This is when the magic happened. I showed her some of my “off limits” tools. I let her use my very expensive “off limits” paint. She grabbed a brayer….next, it was red, then blue, then pink, then orange, then green, then more blue and pink. OMG – where’s the brown I thought as if I was doing the painting. You see, I love all things brown and what it represents…earth, solid footing, nurturing, and warmth. But, since I was only going to paint over it, she had free reign. “Do whatever you want baby….this part is all you.”
Colors started to dance. I found myself asking her permission to join in…..and that’s when things got real. We were no longer monitoring each other. No longer testing the boundries, no longer wondering what to do, no longer comparing or expecting anything from anybody. We just did. We painted, and painted, and painted. An hour went by without whining, complaining, trying to get done fast, counting the colors, or comparing ourselves to our other arty family counterparts. I then painted (with brown) lines and circles and asked her what she saw. “Flowers and dots mommy”. OK – flowers and dots it is. “Where do see the flowers”, I asked. “Right here” as she took the paint brush in rustic brown (melt melt) and added petals where I definitely would not have. They were perfection.
“Paint more,” I said. “OK mommy.”
I used to think that people lived up to the expectations you set before them, but last night I realized that by not placing expectations on my daughter, she actually taught me how to live .
Right now, in the moment, in full color.
Thank you baby girl, you have no idea.