Geez, Mom. Chill.

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My mom thinks I'm overreacting about Maia's drawing. Perhaps some of you think the same? Here's what my mom said:
Why so upset about Maia's drawing?  It seems to me it shows a whole lot of creativity, and it's much better than the one on the box.  When I first saw it, as your blog opened, I thought it was going to be something out of a book.  Pictures are inspiring and take us to worlds we don't have in our home.  Why not draw what you see in a picture (Maia's own house is a bit limited!)?  Geez, Mom.  Chill.  :)

You encourage us all to LOOK at pictures all the time.  Is it better to look and never respond?

I'm more concerned about Maia's overall change in drawing style and images that has occurred since she started kindergarten.

But I agree with my mom. Pictures ARE inspiring and take us to worlds we don't have in our own home. And it's natural to respond and interact with our world, as well as the world we find in pictures, and sometimes that means incorporating those images into our own drawings, whether by copying or using other means.

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  1. Becky says

    You’re a mom…you’re supposed to worry about your children! Our brains tell us that everything is fine and they will turn out well and balanced in the end. Our hearts on the other hand panic at the slightest change. It’s a good thing we have both to keep US balanced!

  2. says

    I’d once read somewhere that when children start to interact with other kids at school, they start to absorb what the other kids say and do. I had read that their imaginative play, etc. can change as they adapt to what the other kids do. Not peer pressure, per se, but they start considering the other things in the world outside their own home. One friend of mine was lamenting that his daughter started school and she started liking certain toys he was trying keep her from liking (Disney princess, barbie!, etc.) He was like “where did my daughter go??” I also feel it’s normal because they are coming into their own, discovering pop culture and the world around them and where they fit into it. I’m no expert, but I’d imagine that if you keep encouraging her to explore on her own, she will have the confidence to express herself in her own way when she’d like to.

  3. says

    Keep in mind, your idea of creative expression is not “the rule”. Don’t let your preconceived notion about what she *should* be doing color your view of her drawings. She’s being inspired by new things, things from outside of her cozy world at home. That’s pretty cool! Unless the school is not *allowing* her to draw whatever she wants, I wouldn’t worry one bit! Remember, this is HER journey!

  4. says

    Yes I read it yesterday and thought you were looking too much into it but thats just because you’re a good mom and good moms tend to worry more than they need to. My boys are in 1st & 2nd grade and I don’t think they draw differently since school. One loves to draw and the other has very little interest in it. My girls are toddler & preschool age so I don’t know if they will be different and do more of the hearts and flowers thing when they get into school. I think they all just go through phases. My oldest son loves to draw star wars characters at the moment and is making a book with them on an adventure. He has taken the characters but is using them in his own creative scenes and story. He also makes up his own dinosaurs and robots in drawings. I’m just happy to see him happy. On a side note, he is color blind and its so fun to see the color combinations he ends up with!

  5. says

    Don’t have the time to type a thorough response, but would love to chat with you about this topic when we have the time (good luck with that concept!). In a nutshell, I think what you are seeing happening in school is a reflection of a social/developmental phenomenon. Her creativity is still in there, and it will find it’s way out a-plenty because the foundation is SO THERE, BUT she is also at the age now where she is noticing peers, connecting with them, and indentifying with them. Her orbit is growing, so she’s not just identifying with her creative mama anymore (sorry!)…. But it is an interesting phenomenon among girls at this age, in particular, that they seem to want to be just like each other, and draw just like each other. I see those matching rainbow/flower/heart drawings by girls in k-2nd grade ALL THE TIME (and of course I rather loathe them). Boys don’t seem to show the same desire to conform, but I guess it fits with the way girls play…they want to get along, work things out, like others and be liked by them, and I think these stereotyped drawings of those “pretty/lovey” images are all part of that desire. And then of course, there’s the positive reinforcement they often get from some grownups (certain teachers, for example) for making these “pretty”, albeit rather devoid of creativity, drawings. We don’t have to worry about the fact that you will couneract that by positively reinforceing creative self-expression even more!! Good luck, and so much for my nutshell :)

  6. lj says

    all I can say is I totally hear you. My daughter started preK (she is 4) and her drawings have gotten so much more simplistic. I was already conflicted about sending her to school at this age and although I’m thrilled with school overall I am surprised by how much is about the social ins and outs. I guess that is the point of school but her drawings are more simplistic and I think it is because she is watching how the other kids draw and copying. My mom would say I’m insane and Im’ sure once I’m out of this “parental stage” I’ll think the same thing but right now– being in it– it is sad to see. Thanks for writing about what I was already thinking and thinking I was nuts for it!

  7. Min says

    I understand your concern because I want to raise our daughter to be independent, creative and imaginative. When I was younger, I used to copy a lot of Asian comics which did not get accepted in my portfolio of more realistic pieces. I was devastated and did not understand why at the time. Our daughter is 4 and she is so creative, I don’t ever want her to lose that. But when she sees older children drawing something that is cute, she tries to incorporate it into her work. I let it be but if she lost all of her previously developed talent, I would be very, very concerned. Perhaps, you both can do sone creative exercises together where she has to use her imagination?

  8. says

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, you are doing a really great job!! And Julie is right, Maia has the creative foundation to build from — whatever direction it may take her. I know exactly how you feel though, I can sit here all day and tell you not to worry when I am doing exactly the same thing. :)

  9. says

    I wouldn’t be too concerned. Afterall, being able to replicate something realistically is an important skill to learn. Sort of a learn the rules so then you can break them kind of a thing.

  10. Jesse says

    I think as parents of girls it is easy to fear societal impacts that our daughters will encounter. In addition, they are easily impressed upon within that age group. One thing to keep in mind from an artist perspective, is replicating still life is a practice that is taught at all levels. (The band-aid box). With that being said, I wouldn’t be too worried about the Kai-lan art. As far as the hearts and rainbows go; just keep doing your thing, and your daughter will be better at stomaching societal influences because of it.

  11. says

    We also noticed a change in our daughter’s art when she started kindergarten. She did incredible stuff before and then went into stick figures that the kids around her were doing. We are homeschooling now and she’s doing some amazing things.

  12. says

    well, i can completely understand why you’d feel upset! i think it’s natural for you to want your kids to be genuine and freely creative. and if you’re noticing her stuck in something that worries you, that’s likely your mamavoice speaking. allowing her to have creative art time at home is a brilliant plan of action.
    my daughter has gone through phases of wanting to do step-by-step books (a dislike which i had to get over fast), and then went on to wanting to TRACE the final picture at the bottom of the step-by-step page!! LOL talk about unoriginal! she can draw awesomely, but tracing offers her something, and i respect that. i don’t know what it does for her, but as long as she doesn’t slip into “i don’t draw good” stuff, i’m choosing to not worry.
    hopefully, while these seem like big things in the moment, they are really artistic hiccups in the journey. maia is lucky to have such an inspired mother to be with her as things grow and progress. :)

  13. says

    You know, my Mom introduced my son to actual coloring books at 2 years old and she would color with him and of course, stay perfectly in the lines. Well my son, now 3, to this day gets so frustrated when coloring. He always asks us to do it for him. He says we do it better! Of course, we’ve had years of practice. I firmly believe that small children should free color/draw and not see any coloring books for a very long time!
    That being said he loves Dr. Seuss so much and always asks us, his family, to recreate the inspiring pages. We had pictures from 4 different stories hung up in his play room. We would get him to help color in the images and we would also, purposely color outside the lines, sort of make it abstract so that he would feel more confident drawing. It’s not terrible to recreate images to see if you can do it.
    Now my son draws lines and circles and eyes and colors alone. He still wants helps sometimes, but it’s because of the coloring book thing. How do you feel about coloring books? I wish we never saw one in this house. My husband and his sister are artists (his sister is an amazing painter) so this has bummed me out, to say the least.

  14. says

    When my son started Kindergarten, he stopped reading at his advanced level and began reading at the level of the rest of his classmates. As you can imagine, I was very concerned. I think children just want to fit in and feel comfortable. Once my son became comfortable in the class, his advanced reading skills returned and I’m sure your daughter’s creativity in her drawing will return too.

  15. says

    Jean, I totally understand your concerns! I’m a worrier too, and I’m all busy these days worrying about whether my 5-year-old is going to retain his natural curiosity and love of learning now he’s in public school. But, from my standpoint as a music teacher, I want to reassure you along the lines of Molly’s comment: “being able to replicate something realistically is an important skill to learn. Sort of a learn the rules so then you can break them kind of a thing.” I teach my Music Together students the same songs with the same rhythms, tones, and words. They learn them as presented on the CD and in class, but once they get comfortable with the song, they then have the freedom to make something new of it (create new movements or verses or tonal improvisation). It’s the same thing with my piano students. Plus there’s great value in feeling like you’re part of a community that shares a common baseline of experience/knowledge. I’m not sure this explains why EVERYBODY wants to learn “Heart and Soul” and “Fur Elise” but that’s my theory!

  16. Julie says

    Just as trees and purple monsters are out there in the world to be drawn(some seen, others only imagined) so are band-aid boxes and Mondrian paintings (which we show them and encourage them to try out that art style). I agree with the others that given time she will return to her roots. My daughter is homeschooled but when she is making art with a peer group her focus is much more narrow than when she makes art on her own. For now if Maia wants to continue with creating heart flowers and whatnot, maybe you could see if she has interest in making those drawing with different kinds of materials like cutting fabric scraps for the petals or filling them in with seed beads. Playing around with materials and textures may keep a creative element to it.

  17. says

    It also occured to me to mention that you might want to consider that artists all study “the masters” before branching out. Consider architects, sculpturists, painters—they all have to study what has already been done to get the creative juices going. =)

  18. says

    I think the comment about remembering it is “HER journey” is a very valid and thoughtful comment. Something I should also remember with my children, not just in regards to drawing but all aspects of development, choice of clothes/ imaginary play/ toys/ not wanting to ride the balance bike even I though we spent too much buying one because we thought it was the right thing to do:)Sometimes my response to my children s activities reveals just as much about me as it does about my children and at times that is wonderful and also at times confronting!To have drawing as a way to process what a child sees is just so wonderful. My eldest son at this stage isn’t that interested in drawing however my youngest daughter loves it and rather than push it upon my son I have had to let go a little,have the materials there and ask him if he’d like to participate when I am doing something but if he doesn’t want that is OK too. Took me a little while to work that one out as well!I was thinking as well, even adult artists/ authors/ thinkers are inspired and copy/ replicate/ analyze/ keep a process diary of other art forms and learn from their peers to learn process and analyze. I am sure artist wouldn’t think ALL of their work is a reflection of their true creative selves. Sometimes we just want to try something out for a period. While writing and thinking about your blog and thinking about my own responses to my children [trying not to worry worry but deep down still worrying!] I reminded myself of my brother. We both learnt music from an early age and for many years my brother practiced and was technically very good but didn’t seem passionate about music …oh and did want to learn the star wars theme tune. However as a young adult, music became his absolute passion. His way to dealing with stress, his way to express himself and now as an adult he is a contemporary jazz musician passionately expressing himself through music. By my mum exposing us to music and helping us to lay the foundations [and letting us play the star wars them tune and twin peaks theme tune]provided the opportunity for something wonderful for us to have as an adult. I am sure you are providing similar foundations for your daughter. Enjoy the journey