I am very busy with work stuff, household chores, and estate administration stuff and will continue to be for the next couple weeks. Trying to prepare for a much needed summer break, falling behind on many things, stressed and overwhelmed.
The other day, my daughter decided to look up how to draw various Pokemon. She was super excited about her ability to draw Diglet, Dugtrio, and Jigglypuff. Then she decided she wanted to take requests, so I asked her for a Bulbasaur.
This immediately stressed her out. She tried to look up step-by-step how to draw instructions, and found some, but wasn’t happy with how things were turning out. She would get stuck after the first couple steps. (In part, because they didn’t really “look like a bulbasaur” until much farther on in the steps, when you erased and moved a bunch of lines)
She was whining about this a bit, while I was trying to work. I kept trying to give her quick bits of advice, and then putting headphones back on as soon as I felt she was unblocked. But sure enough, a couple minutes later, she would come back even more frustrated, which eventually got me frustrated.
She started crying, and so I asked her to take a few minutes to go to her room and calm down. Tried and true parenting trick, this also creates an opportunity for the parent to calm down, even if you never remember it until you actually do it.
What I realized is that I was trying to avoid the “interruption”, trying to get back to work, and that was a big part of what was guiding my behavior. But my daughter was both trying to build on her earlier success, and also make something for me, and her frustration stemmed from feeling like she wanted to do a good job and didn’t have the tools to do it herself.
I had the option of continuing to let her “tough it out” on her own, to try to teach her some sort of lesson about how to better control her emotions. But what I realized is, that wouldn’t be fun for me, or for her, and it might discourage her from spending time on creative things.
So instead, after a few minutes break for both of us, I had her sit down with me. I stopped what I was doing for I don’t know… 15 minutes… and I went line by line with her through the drawing. I’m not great at this stuff, not even close to good, but I do know some simple things, like how we need to “squish” certain things to make them look more natural, and stretch other things. How we need to erase and reshape lines when they seem out of place with the rest of the drawing, etc.
I walked her through all of that, explained what was going wrong at each step and why. Explained to her it’s normal to need to erase some things and try again, and that if she hasn’t drawn something many times before, all the small adjustments are just where the learning is happening.
Eventually, we got our end result. It was more than bulbasaur-ish enough for my daughter to proudly share with her brother and for him to say, “Wow, that’s a nice bulbasaur!”, which is really all that mattered.
This morning, my daughter showed me another little sketch she was working on. Another bulbasaur! And that one she was making all on her own…
The moral of the story? Sometimes drawing a bulbasaur with your kid is indeed an “emergency” and work can wait. It’s not that one moment that matters, but the message it sends when you give your kids the attention they need to grow, when they need it.