I remember the moment during the drive to school, the awkward silence in the conversation,
Me with my mom voice drowning out the radio voices, me flailing,
Trying to explain
To my kindergartner,
Not to expect any miracles.
“I’m kind of afraid of trying something new,” I said, almost proud,
Of the vulnerability I had voiced.
Looking back at her face in the rearview mirror.
I knew, thinking out loud, that this was a teachable moment.
It was important to admit that there are things I am just not good at.
I am human. I have humility. I must teach her to be humble. Right?
“I haven’t done this type of painting much before,”
I admitted, hoping she would catch my drift.
Wasn’t it wonderful I was trying something new?
Wasn’t it wonderful I was taking on something that scared me?
Wasn’t it wonderful I was facing my fears?
I was expecting a bit of empathy, something akin to solidarity,
So her response knocked me upside the head.
“I would be good at that,” the girl who wears all pink proclaimed with her proud “big girl” voice.
As she sat in her car seat,
The girl who can’t even match her own socks exuded confidence without fear, unaware of the irony.
And I thought I was the one teaching her a lesson, right?
Yet she was laying it out there for me to figure out myself.
“I’ve done lots of paintings before. Right, mom?”
Where do kids get their confidence?
Where do they get anything?
The kid who can’t even tie her own shoes had owned me.
And just like that she was the teacher and I was the student.
How could she fit in more painting in six months of kindergarten than I had fit into a lifetime?
I thought, as I sat there, digesting my fear of art, and failure.
You probably already know that I sent my little wonder
Off to finger paint and figure out the world that day.
As I have every day since.
I would like to say I ate my fears, found my strength, and painted my heart out that day.
Because I did.
And I hope you can too.
Art can have the power to suffocate, but also to ease our suffering, because yes, of course, it can help us
And who are we to fear that?
Who are we to forget that it is not only ok, it is necessary to fail?
And who are we to say that any attempt to create beauty could ever, by definition, make us anything
less than the little creators that we were miraculously made to be?