Art Imitating Life…

ImageIsabella drew this picture last week. Just saw it yesterday. Though it’s a simple piece, it’s my favorite thing that she’s ever drawn.

Many years ago, my Italian cousin Sergio and his wife and I were out to dinner. He turned over the paper placemat and had me draw a house, tree, sun and snake. The house represents you. The tree the mother. The sun the father and the snake sexual energy. You may be familiar with it. I remember that what I drew was very accurate.

The simplicity and odd accuracy of this novel psychological ‘test’ which is well known by teachers, stuck with me. Over the years, I ‘tested’ many people, and then I told them about themselves, their parents and their sexual energy. Usually, it garnered a chuckle and a “Wow!” All in good fun. Obviously not a life changing tool. Some tame insights and a conversation piece.

When Isabella was very young and could first start drawing things I would ask her to draw these four things. I’ve kept them in a file. About every six months I’d do it. “Here’s a piece of paper. Don’t think about it. Just draw what you feel.” From this, I would get a sense of how she felt about herself, me, and her mom. I always breathed a sigh of relief that her house was big, strong, bright and smack in the middle. The sun loomed large and the tree, though smaller, was there. She still felt a connection to her. Good.

About six months ago, though, her drawings changed. The sun became small and way up in the corner. At first I was distraught. Was she secretly feeling distanced from me? Was I some authoritarian parent rather than a loving one who has authoritarian moments? That can’t be. I asked her about it and the answer was plain. Another girl, a few years older, draws her suns like that. She was just copying her, drawing from her mind instead of feeling it. Nothing I could do. I accepted it but was still a little disappointed. To see anything but a big bright sun is less than how I want her to feel. For a couple months her sun was drawn the same.

Then, she came home from school with this picture last week. Since I could only see a house and a tree, I wasn’t sure what she was drawing. “Is that a house?” Yes, she said. “And, that?” She said it was a flower but then changed to it being a tree. “And, what’s that, all that color filling the entire background?” “Oh, that’s the sun.”

My heart melted. It’s not that I want to be her whole world. Couldn’t if I tried. She’s very independent already, wanting to do things herself and her own way. Plus, I’m about empowering her. I was just heartened to know from this silly little ‘test’ that I still take up a big part of her world. It reminded me just how sacred our relationship is and how very lucky I am to be the sun, at least for now, in her world. This little drawing gave me all the inspiration I need for our next five years and to reach higher in helping her to blossom.

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Pathetic (Quality time, Priorities, Creativity)

Just got her to bed after a full afternoon and evening.

At school pick-up, she asked for a play date with one of her friends. I said yes. Her friend’s mom said okay. Off we went. I let go of my plans to help her with a creative school project, happy to let them do their thing while I worked more on my show in their midst. They escaped into a world without structure, combining stuffed animals, chess, play houses, and dress up costumes into endless pleasure.

Later, I asked if they wanted help with chess. Fortunately, they said no, as I would have ruined the game they invented with a chess board. My only involvement other than bearer of food and drink was to be the pretend monster climbing a tower into Isabella’s house. But they tackled me, used pretend glue to lodge me to the floor or put up force fields around it to prevent my entry. At one point, I managed to get in and they cowered, giggling under her bed. “Hey, don’t let me get in!” I said. They jumped up and charged me. That’s more like it.

After her friend left, she kept right on. She cut a hole in her dress up clothes box and strung it and two chairs together to make a train that she dragged around the house. Finally, she built a new bed for herself tonight next to mine. I told her I wasn’t thrilled about the posture it would keep her in. But liking her creative living, I compromised and helped her make it more amenable. We squeezed in two stories, and she fell asleep with her hand in mine listening to peaceful music. How did I get so lucky? I know, I’m pathetic. But I just love taking care of her.