My daughter Tina possesses remarkable artistic talent, a gift that manifested itself as soon as she could grasp a pencil. Her fine motor skills have been impeccable for as long as I can remember. In her toddler years, I found it necessary to closely supervise her drawing sessions, keeping track of every crayon and pencil on the table, to prevent unexpected masterpieces from appearing in books, on walls, or even on furniture.
I soon realized that I had to hide every form of writing implement from Tina, or my living space would pay the price! Balancing the encouragement of her creativity with protecting various surfaces around the house became quite a challenge.
Once when they were three, the twins were playing in their room and it was eerily quiet. (As fellow parents know, this type of silence is equivalent to someone screaming “GO NOW” in your ear.)
Somehow, from somewhere, Tina had managed to find a Sharpie.
When I walked in, I discovered “ANGELA” boldly written across the headboard of her toddler bed. This display was similar to a graffiti artist/tagger’s work, with tiny doodles and embellishments surrounding my name. What struck me most in that moment was that she had written my name, not hers. She was three! She definitely did not know how to spell, but those tiny hands sure could replicate letters like a champ.
I felt so many things at once: shock, curiosity, reverence, pride, defeat.
Not long after Graffiti Day, with every writing apparatus hidden from Tina, I was certain we wouldn’t repeat the tagging incident. I felt safe. (I now see how these are the funniest words ever!) One day I was going from living room to kitchen and as I approached the door, my eye caught a charming little mini mural, painted in hot pink nail polish on the bright white wall. A masterpiece of chaos, if you will.
Cue the Universe LOLing straight up in my face.
Reflecting on those times, I wonder if my vigilance inadvertently led Tina to conceal her artwork. Despite my efforts, she developed a tendency to hide her creations. It seemed she was never prepared to show her work to anyone. I’d find magnificent doodles, sketches and paintings crumpled in the trash, under the bed, tucked away in drawers. When I hung her canvases on our walls, they would mysteriously disappear, only to be found stashed in a corner or hidden on a shelf.
Perhaps this is the nature of being an artist. Maybe many creatives feel a strong hesitation at revealing their crafts. Maybe the comfort level comes with age and time. Now 18, Tina channels her talent in other ways. I’m not sure if she draws or paints much anymore (her sketchbooks are hidden from plain sight), but she can do your makeup like a pro. She’s also been known to modify her clothes, transforming old army jackets into something patched and trendy or cutting and renewing an old pair of jeans. One time she even made new buttons for an old coat—out of clay.
My wish for Tina as she moves further into adulthood is that she realizes the perfection she seeks is an illusion—and that the beauty of her art is found in the simple act of self-expression.
In this week’s Soul Guidance Reading we have a look at perfectionism and how holding out for the ideal (situation, moment, person, words, plan) can impede our path forward. “Waiting for perfection” is another way of saying “I need to control this.”
Or as in my case: “I feel safe.” (again, the Universe: LOL)