Linda and her husband, Richard, have raised nine exceptional and strong-willed children (five sons, four daughters, no twins, all genetically theirs…just to get all the questions out of the way). Linda is an accomplished author and co-founder of Joy Schools. You can learn more about Linda at ValuesParenting.

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The Art of Watching Children Create Art

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One of the great delights of Motherhood is watching children create their own art. As distinct as their own thumbprints, the art that comes from their minds is expressed on untold numbers of pages. Stick figure after stick figure at first progresses to include hair, clothes, even shoulders! What a delight it is to observe their creations as that literally “fall out” of their minds through pencils, pens, crayons, brushes and markers as they produce something totally unique to themselves. Their body language as they create is also a personification of their emerging personalities. Although we often have to ask for explanations of their work by way of saying “tell me about this?” as we point to an inexplicable figure in the drawing, often what they come up with are truly treasures!

Our daughter Shawni, an amazing mother of five, premier artist and photographer writes the following engaging poem concerning her feelings about her children’s works of art:

I Wish I Had One Hundred Rooms

I wish I had a hundred rooms

To fill with the creations of my children’s imaginative minds

I’m sad to see them in the trash, as they are. They fish them out…sad that I’d toss their treasures. But little do they realize they’re my treasures too…I’m sad to throw them out.

The swirls of color, scribbles from Claire…a jagged concentrated effort to make a face…round, uneven eyes, a straight line makes a mouth, two straight lines are the body. When she finishes one picture she looks up at me, open-mouthed, pure glee, eyes wide…she can’t believe she made such a masterpiece. I feel her heart as she shows me and my own aches knowing that soon these drawings will be more realistic. And I don’t want them to. I want her to stay my baby.

The letters Grace writes…sometimes swirly with curls at the ends, just like my own writing when I try to make it fancy, sometimes bubble letters, sometimes just true kindergarten block letters, words spelled just how they sound “a nether” for another and “noo” for new…I look at her work and I see her face concentrating, tongue sticking slightly out, fingers pressed hard on the pencil turning her fingernails white, trying to get that pencil it to move how she wants…to make beautiful work.

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Elle’s careful hand, “MASH” swirls she’s made with her friends, silly ways to determine the color or her future wedding dress, who she will marry, how many kids she’ll have (1, 3, or 1,000 are some of the choices). Princesses with hearts and stars surrounding them have graduated to flowers and girls and families, complete with a baby Lucy with a one-line curl on her head. Enough to melt my heart but then there are the notes as well. Love notes to me. She writes to me that she never wants another mom. She wants to take pictures like me. She is thankful for things, and she writes them down, carefully, beautifully, a note on my pillow. How can I capture this. Forever.

Fantasy guys from Max, carefully, perfectly drawn, lines erased and re-drawn, no mistakes…thought out, a copy of the cover of his favorite Play Station game, an idea from some crazy cartoon character, inspiration from books or shows. Dark pencil lines because he pushes hard from his concentration, methodically transferring these figures from his brain to the paper spread out before him. When he writes he likes to write in big block letters, usually with shadows protruding behind them…very artistic, tidy. Even his handwriting is neat. He’s transformed from the sloppiest writing I can scarcely depict to beautiful letters, as he takes his time writing them perfectly.

So you wonder why I’d like one hundred rooms? No, I don’t want a grandiose house lavish with room upon room to make it my mansion; I simply want a place I can keep my treasures, the papers and papers that pile up day after day at the end of trails of markers, pencils and crayons.

I can’t keep up with them but I wish I could keep them.

How important it is to really look at the art our children produce as well as how they produce it! Sometimes when it comes in mass, it’s hard to appreciate each piece, yet their work gives us a chance to pour out positive reinforcement and is often a fun peek into the window of who that child will ultimately become. Enjoy!

– Linda Eyre

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