Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Heart of an Artist

My husband and I just had probably one of the most tender and tough conversations we've had with our oldest -- our 8-yr-old daughter. She is quite possibly one of the most sensitive, compassionate, artistic children I've ever seen. (That's without bias...if I were biased, I'd use really subjective language!)

I won't go into the context of why were having this discussion, but I will talk about how amazing it was to talk to her and learn so much about myself in the process.

She had become really sullen and weepy after we had stymied her plans to go do something this afternoon. (And in my original version of this message, I went through all the details, but the sentiment got lost in the minutia.)

After lunch, when she had hunched away...eyes all puffy from not quite crying...we called her back to the table. We assured her that we think she is one of the brightest, funniest, most artistic, sensitive, compassionate kids ever. And that it concerns us that she really hasn't been 'herself' lately and wanted to find out if there was anything going on...anything she wanted to talk to us about.

We talked about daycare and school and some changes that are going on there...and then it hit me. She is 'wired' just like me.

Every answer she gave had to do with her internal, emotional angst about things that were beyond her control. Friends not getting along...worried about someone else's feelings...fretting over someone else's poor choices and their consequences...afraid about things that are bigger than her brain can comprehend, but they still weigh on her nonetheless.

So, I began to explain "the heart of the artist" to her. (There is a book by that name, which I NOW MUST read end to end instead of scanning through it.) I explained that while so many people walk through life in everyday colors (and she got it immediately -- she used the word 'dull'), that she sees and feels things in bold, bright neon, Spongebob colors. Everything hurts more, feels better, is more exciting, more special, softer, brighter, scarier -- she just feels and experiences things with the palette of Andy Warhol rather than Ansel Adams.

And bless her heart, I realized that with these past few weeks of summer being filled with cheer camp and fine arts day camp rehearsals and birthday parties and softball and play dates...that all of that hyperexperience together has overloaded her circuits!

As I was sitting there explaining "the heart of an artist" to my sweet little girl, I caught a glimpse of my husband who sat there nodding. He told me later that 'that' was the exact conversation that we needed to have.

It helped me to help her make sense of how she was embrace her sensitivities instead of being afraid of them. She is around all sorts of artists all the time -- I am in theater and my dearest friends are all fellow actors and actresses, directors, musicians, singers, dancers and writers. My parents are accomplished watercolorists, and my husband is a gifted 3D artist -- the child gets it either from nature or nurture, but she definitely has it!

As I sat and laid out what this all meant for her, I realized that I was talking to myself. I realized that I had never embraced my own own heart of an artist. I realized that many of the struggles and emotions that I have fought for so many years were because I was fighting the way I am wired...I was resisting my very nature.

So there at the table while I had this tender heart-to-heart talk with my sweet baby girl, it just so happened that it was from the heart of one artist to another.


At 3:21 PM, Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Sounds like you have a beautiful family. Children continue to teach us about ourselves, as we teach them about life. It is a complex, stimulating and fulfilling relationship.

Enjoy your day. And thank you for your kind comments. I sent you an email, and truly appreciate your concern.


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