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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