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Saturday, 23 April 2016

#11 On Your Child's Artistic Talents


Let me be clear: I'm not totally sure my son has any artistic talents (and my daughter is still a newborn, so we'll leave her for now). However I am trying to see whether it's worth helping him to hone some for the following reasons:

1) I live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, where the accepted diet is one of yoga, cafe-culture and self-expression. It is also an area where cello or flute lessons tend to trump BMX-ing or urban dance. It is only fair that we help Son to adopt a 'When in Rome' attitude while we live here.

2) It's too early to tell yet if he has any of his father's maths/ science- type abilities. Obviously these are the lucrative ones, as I've said before, but....

3)  Son has shown a tendency to be a massive show off (er...perhaps my genes) so it might be worth pursuing the artsy route while he's still innumerate.

So. Keeping my best Pushy Parent head on (adopted only for these purposes, you understand), I start categorising the artistic areas where Son has shown merit so far and take some notes, as follows:

Fine Art:

I loved drawing at school: would like him to be good at this.

- Him? Hard to say. His own sketches = barely evolved beyond finger painting but he does like colouring.

- BUT not sure I want anyone else to see his colouring; it's a little unsettling. Tendency to focus on faces of subject matter and scribble in the eyes and mouths so they look quite horrific, like the deranged defacings performed by a madman from Luther / a 90s horror film.

Verdict? Maybe stay away from this one for now.


- Enjoys music- we used reggae to get him to sleep when tiny.

- Talent? Not sure, BUT does have swagger of frontman. Definite ego- when Husband or I sing, Son stops us mid-line:

'No no no. No. You can't sing this Mummy / Daddy...
I can.' (commences singing).

-Also, attitude, manners and scowl of Liam Gallagher at times.

Verdict? Attitude to fake it, if not talent to make it. One to return to.

Literature / Wordsmithery

-NB not helped by Husband + I reading abridged versions of his stories, which we can get away with since Son currently illiterate. Eg:

Me: ‘Where is the green sheep?” Hmmm, let’s see…

[Sidestepping all subsequent pages speculating upon said sheep’s whereabouts, flicking straight to the last page].

     Ah. There he is! Behind the bush all    along. Night night, then.

- Also, loves to reflect on past events in Shakespearean format.  For example, his friend Margot lent him her toy  he stole a toy from his friend Margot, who cried even harder when her Mum said he could borrow it:

Son: Margot did lend me this toy. And she did cry.
Me: Yes.
Son: And she did scream.
Me: Yes.
Son: Her Mummy did make her share (fails to see irony in his own uselessness at sharing)

Without being too boring and nitty-gritty (teacher alert) I know that this is Son’s way of addressing English past tense, which baffles lots of children.  In its own way, it’s logical and not entirely incorrect, if a little Renaissance-era.

Verdict? Quite flowery and yet dignified. Might pursue this one.

Theatre / Performance Art

Exhibitionist gene definitely at work here.

-Less convincing when pretending to be asleep: grins widely, breathes really fast and his closed eyelashes keep twitching / fluttering. Snoring noise also pretty hammy.

- BUT- in prima donna mode he is peerless. Able to throw himself prostrate upon ground in paroxysm. Very quick to produce real tears and purpling face, all at will. Can remain thus for quite some time, plus plaintive wails:

‘Pleeeease, Mummy! Pleeeease give me back that toast (that I’ve eaten as he said he didn’t want it). Now! Plee- hee- heeeeeeese. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.’ (continued indefinitely, getting only stronger with each attempt to pacify him).

- All this= extremely convincing until a dog appears on TV/ his sister burps sick everywhere. Suddenly, his face melts into a summer’s day,  rigid body softens and he laughs ‘hur hur! Yook! Milk everywhere! That’s FUNNY.’

Verdict: Worryingly convincing. Might keep this under wraps for now to avoid him being screened for psychopathy.

Expressive Dance:

- Not much evidence of rhythm / coordination yet, BUT does love to do ‘the crab’ (sidestepping across floor with hip-thrusting motion, snapping his thumbs and fingers together as ‘pincers’. Novel).

- Also, now that putting him in a sleeping bag has failed to stop him escaping from his cot, insists upon parading victoriously around the flat, still in said sleeping bag and shuffling like a little geisha.

Verdict: Potential.

As for comedy? That is pretty much tied in with all of the above, whether deliberate or not.

So, when Pinterest flashes me up ‘articles of interest’ entitled ‘Ten Signs You Have a Nervous Child’ and ‘How to Build Your Child's Confidence' I hastily close the app and start putting 'child agents' into Google.

It never did Macaulay Culkin any harm.

Seen the book? Take a look!
Twitter:  @ericajbarlow
Instagram: @ericajane_20   #lookingatyoubabydotcom
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