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If parents use one cliché more than any other, it must be this one:
They grow up so quickly!
Before I had children, I was tired of hearing this because it seemed so trite. It is trite, but now that I have children, I am tired of hearing the cliché because it’s redundant. My expectation of the things that my children can do is continually exceeded by them actually doing those things (before I expect them).
Some days, it seems that if I stare at my nearly three-year-old daughter, I can see her brain development in-process. The evidence is usually a slightly different action than the day before. For example, I’ll notice that she looks at her breakfast a little more critically than the morning before, or maybe she suddenly wants to know our family plans for the next two days instead of just tomorrow.
Our bi-weekly painting sessions are one of my absolute favorite ways to spend an hour. They also provide many glimpses of Jackie’s development, and early signs of what I like to think are her artistic talents. For one thing, the child has laser focus when she commits to an activity. Instead of scribbling with her brush, she uses long strokes with directional purpose. Jackie also likes to cover the entire surface of the paper that we use. Here are a few of my favorites from our sessions.
I’m really excited that Jackie is learning to paint before she learns to draw. I think sometimes that the transition from drawing to painting is like the transition from a baseball swing to a golf swing. The ingrained practice of drawing (or hitting a baseball) is really hard to suppress when you start painting (or hitting a golf ball) because the learned activity is similar enough to the new activity to contaminate or hinder it.
I don’t force painting on Jackie, and she can quit at any time she wants after we get started. I took Jackie to the Rembrandt in America exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art last weekend. I’ll be the first to admit that the greatest of the Dutch Masters wasn’t the greatest for a toddler, but we still enjoyed ourselves. As we skimmed a Rembrandt book the week before our visit, I explained to Jackie what a portrait was. After 15 minutes walking through the exhibit, Jackie gave me a serious look and said, “Daddy, all of these pictures are portraits.”
Other museum-goers gave us you’re-being-noisy-in-a-library-type looks as we talked loudly about the paintings on the walls, which reminded me why people perceive art exhibits as stuffy (because they are). I even got scolded by a museum proctor when I pointed to Rembrandt’s signature on a painting from his Leiden period and my finger got within a few inches of the canvas. However, the exhibit was fantastic, Jackie was a good sport, and I think she enjoyed it (although not quite as much as she likes the modern area of the permanent collection).
And one day soon, when she or McLain creates something amazing that makes me proud, I’ll probably be surprised. After all, I was ready to cut up an apple for Jackie’s snack this past Monday, and she told me, “you don’t need to cut it Daddy…I’ll hold it and eat it.”