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As we walked into Liam's art fair/competition on Wednesday night I immediately scanned the room for his entry because shame and I, we've never met. I finally saw his piece, an interpretation of a work by Jackson Pollack, with a red third place ribbon affixed to its corner.

I checked in my purse to assure that I'd packed a jar of Vaseline so as to get our egos back out the door before showing him his ribbon and congratulating him. Liam is at the stage where he could accomplish quite a lot artistically (more so than now) if Chris and I wanted to really push him, really cultivate him. But we don't. We let him do as much as he wants. We first thought that perhaps we were doing Liam a disservice, holding him back. We've since decided to the contrary. I always second-guess my parenting decisions. (I'm sure that will make the kids feel fabulous when they read this as teenagers. Hi! We've no clue as to what we're doing! Love, Mom and Dad.)

When I first began homeschooling we decided that our major goal was to discover each of our kids' particular gifts and then teach and encourage them to use those gifts for societal benefit. I don't want to burn them out on their passions during their childhood, besides; I want them to enjoy their youth. We know another young artist whom I believe to be equally advanced as Liam. He's always in some art workshop, studying in a mentor program, doing this, doing that, going here, going there. He's a brilliant kid but he doesn't act like a kid. Perhaps he's just super mature for his age but the last time we were around him and his parents in a social setting I fully expected to see him smoking a cigar and clutching a glass of scotch. I want Liam to run and revel in all that defines childhood. We have a period in our life where we're afforded a free pass to behave immaturely and explore all of our options because of our age. I want him to enjoy that. Besides, I think he does wonderfully as it is.



40 Comments

That's an awesome picture!

You have nailed a constant parenting struggle on the head. It is also tempting to try and get them to like something YOU like (which naturally happens to some extent anyway, just due to exposure).

Each of my kids has definite potential in various areas. It's SO hard not to just go nuts and have them really work on this. With my 12 year old, I keep thinking, "you could make this a career!" She doesn't want to think about a career, yet.

She's probably right, but it is so hard to resist.

Woo hoo for all of you! He is doing something that he likes to do on his terms and you are letting him, on his terms. It's a win-win all around....and it shows because he wins. :)

Yay, Liam! Interestingly, I was just discussing Jackson Pollack last night. Who knew Liam was the second coming of JP?

I applaud your decision to let him be a kid. But I'll add this one thought:

When I was in grade school, I took music lessons. I hated going to them, hated to practice between them. I told my mom I wanted to quit. She said, in that knowing Mom way, "OK. But some day, you're going to regret it."

"No way," I thought.

Today? Yeah, totally regret it.

So don't turn Liam into a cigar-chomping, Scotch-swilling tyke, but nudge him a little bit, maybe?

Love the painting (and the SL hat). Pollack is a fave of mine and I did some interpretations of his work in High School too. The art talent will always be there so I think you are doing the right thing with letting him revel in childhood. How many times do adults wish we could back?? Rock on Momma!

Bravo to both of you!

So many parents, especially home-school parents, seem to feel like they have something to prove, that their parenting is validated because their kid is brilliant at something. There's enough time for focus in life, and very little, comparatively, for exploration. It's better to let them move at their own speed and be kids.

"We have a period in our life where we're afforded a free pass to behave immaturely and explore all of our options because of our age."

Yes - it's called college.

Great painting! Art should be something kids enjoy, not have to "work at" while they're kids.

I was a volunteer with an ArtSmart program once; some of the moms got training at New Orleans Museum of Art and went to classrooms giving talks. Then, the grunt moms (including me) would come in a week or so later to do hands-on art in the same style/theme.

I got chosen for Jackson Pollock - we used long (10-14 feet long) bands of 4 or 5 foot wide newsprint and the kids painted a la JP with thick tempera paints and infant nasal aspirators (the cheap blue kind). Good times. When it was too windy to work in the breezeway the hallways ended up looking like crime scenes.

That picture is perfect - beautiful painting, ribbon, dimples, and a giant Cards hat hiding his eyes. He's not even my kid and I'm proud of him.

You're one smart mama.

Sounds like you and Chris are doing just fine. Besides, when Liam becomes a teenager, he'll think you guys "have no clue" anyway:)

good for him.
i say just give him the tools to explore his skill. my son loves to draw and he is real good with colors etc. and his drawings are v. detailed, like sketches of things happening. i plan to put him in some class at some point so he can have fun with it. he finds plenty of ways to be a kid and run around. i am sure so does liam. sometimes my husband wishes his parents had pushed him towards the talents he had, so he could at least hone in and be an expert in one of them.
the real question is: what ribbon did lawn man get?? tell him we're proud of his fine work as well and that i, at least, did notice he was appearing fit and trim in a previous photo! (apply vaseline to his head now.)

...one of the reasons I like you...you don't pretend to have the parenting thing all figured out. I work in early childhood ed. and I find it so mystifying how some parents cannot see that even if you could manage to place all the "perfect" inputs into your child's life, you cannot guarantee a perfect outcome...because you are dealing with an individual.

I pray...I do the best I can...I pray...and I know that I cannot control how they respond to my parenting...perfect or imperfect...and I pray.

...I sound like a Calvinist...

Not to be TOO creepy but could you please email me you email address. I need it for BlogHer. Wanted to nominate you but I need your email. Yeah, that sounded sooo creepy - sorry!

Thanks!!
Kat

I concur with Natalie. You pray and do the best you can and leave the rest to your kid and God. My husband preaches a sermon about the bow and the arrow. David, in the book of Psalms compares children to arrows. My husband says that comparison helps us to know how to raise children. We hold on to them, put them in our bow, point them in the right direction and then when it’s time to let them go, we release the bow. It’s then up to the child to fight against winds and storms of life that try to blow them off course. Our job as parents is to point them in the right direction and try to make sure they get there.

With regard to cultivating natural ability, I think we just give them the right tools and opportunities and guidance and then let them do the rest. My whole family is musically talented and I began playing the piano at a really early age. I was chording around age 4 or 5. I don't even remember learning to chord. My mother played classically and by ear as did most of her sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc., on both sides of the family. Anyway, she began giving me lessons by note in elementary, but I hated it. I really just wanted to play by ear..play music I heard in church or on the radio. As I’ve gotten older, and especially as a music major in college, I learned to read music more capably, appreciate classical pieces, and other a variety of musical genre. But I still enjoy playing music we sing in church and what I hear on the radio..not much as changed. I never excelled enough on a classical front to get to solo with the St. Louis symphony, although my teacher told me I could have, but I've been able to do quite a lot in the church arena and I've enjoyed it completely. What will be..will be…at least that’s my two cents.

I am totally impressed with Liam’s art pieces..he’s incredibly gifted for such a young, cute little guy. You both expose him to so many different activities and a lot of the arts. He would never have half of those opportunities in a public school setting.. I know..I went to a public school 1st through 12th grade. Anyway, I hope I can do as good a job with my two little ones that I will be homeschooling. Congrats to Liam!!

Dana,
OT - Awhile ago you mentioned a friend of yours who had a cooking blog. I usesd her chicken enchillada recipe and it was amazing! However I lost her blog address. Could ya send it to me?

Liam's painting is really good!

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