I’m no Tiger Mom, but lately I’m beginning to think there is a little bit of Tiger in all of us… We all want the best for our kids. And most of us, whether we admit it or not, have a pretty firm idea of what that best comprises — usually to see some trait or talent from our youth revisited in our children. If you were the Paula Abdul of your heyday, then maybe you harbor secret hopes of raising your own Laker Girl. Or say, for the sake of Canadianism, you have fond memories of cheering from the chilly sidelines of the old Forum, you fantasize about your son being drafted to play for the Habs.
In my case, it’s art. Both my husband and I were what you would call artistic children. I spent countless hours at the grown-up table, colouring and drawing. When I was doing art, I was in The Zone. Truly, I have no memories of jumping on beds or chasing around balls. I do, however, recall creating a fashion catalogue that was over fifty pages long, and badgering family and friends to place orders for my very own haute couture. While I was never going to be the next Frida Khalo –or Jean Paul Gaultier for that matter– art remained both a definite passion and a definite therapy, much like golfing or gardening.
Being more of a left-brainer, my hubby’s childhood oeuvres involved great technical skill, his subjects things like cars and skyscrapers. He meticulously worked his lines until they were worthy of an architect’s blueprint. As artistically inclined parents, it is therefore unfathomable that this creative bone did not, in some shape or form, find its way into our son’s body. Just as my mother once eyed my drawings with bemusement (because throwing around balls was what she understood, what made her tick as a kid), I don’t get my child’s aversion to art.
You expect your child to be made in your image, at least to some recognizable extent. Then, at some point, the startling realization hits home: your baby is his own little person. He comes complete with his own set of strengths and fails, his own, very clearly delineated likes and dislikes. Contrary to popular belief: your child is not a Mini Me. And sometimes that’s hard to respect.
As my two-year-old pointedly refuses to pick up a crayon, or smudges a bit of tempera on the page before declaring ‘all done’, I take a deep breath and sigh. In spite of myself, I can’t help but feel a little saddened by the fact that he will never ‘get’ art. Just as in time he will no doubt embrace some other passion which, in all probability, I won’t get.
Already he is showing signs of musicality. He can tap out complex beats in imitation on a toy drum. And he sings non-stop. With any luck, he’ll learn to play an instrument: an opportunity I never had. If I have any say in the matter: either the guitar or the piano. Grrr… There’s a tiger in there, after all.
Julie M Green (aka Little Green Mom) is a novelist and freelance writer who rants and raves about all things mommy at Little Green One. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two-year-old son, Jackson. Visit http://www.juliemgreen.ca or follow her on Twitter.