I remember when the label maker came into being.  What a very cool thing to be able to manuever the wheel around, press down the thingy-majiggy, and out popped a small plastic label that you could stick on to toys, or your cassette player (now I’m really dating myself!), and for my father, every one of his tools under the sun.  We loved to label things.  It got nutty.  And we still love to label things: the thinker, the goth, the nerd, the jock.  And when my youngest daughter showed her talented and creative side very early on, we labelled her “the artist.”  For birthdays, she received art sets and paint by number kits, and as she got older, we kept nudging her about art classes in school, and maybe going on to even  art school.  In her spare time, she drew and painted; her art teachers raved about her skills. 

But when an art studio in town opened up, she took a series of classes and then didn’t want to return.  I thought it was the teacher, perhaps, or the group of kids.  But when I finally gave it some serious thought, I finally got it.  While art was something she loved to do in her spare time, it wasn’t something she wanted to take “lessons” on or be lectured to.  For her, it was a time in her day where her imagination could run wild, where she could decide what to do, and not be “assigned” a project, and then be “graded” on it.  This kind of regimen, I believe, was taking the joy out of it for her.

And what a valuable lesson that was for me, and I wish I’d learned it sooner.  I’d probably not have kept on being the “cheerleader” for her art skills as much.  But it’s what parents do, right?  See what your kid does well in and encourage that skill.  But it doesn’t always work that way from the kid’s perspective.  

(Big sigh here!) 

Parenting is such a “learn on your feet as you go,” and a “trial by error” practice.  And I can’t beat myself up too much since I think I discovered the error of my ways before I did any real damage to our relationship.  I now understand her so much more.  And how annoying it must’ve been for her to have mom keep pushing something onto her when it wasn’t her thing, without having the words to explain it.

We’re off on the college search, and besides her excellent art grades, she has also been getting good grades in science and biology.  On our recent college tour, before she even asked to see their art building, she asked to see the biology labs. 

But I wasn’t surprised a bit.  I really do get it now.