As a child growing up, I loved art. I still do. I create in a variety of ways from sewing and painting, to doing hair and writing. Too often when people find out about my hobbies, they say I could never do that — and that might be true. Their creativity was taught out of them. In school, you are told to draw a tree, color the leaves green and the trunk brown, and don’t go out of the lines. We are taught rules for creating, and it hinders our freedom and growth until we feel we’re not good enough, and we give up. Conformity kills creativity.
I don’t know about you, but my kids are unique. They stand out in the room. One is super outgoing and the life of the party; he’s the one talking to everyone, telling non stop stories, and getting into everything to see how it works. The other is clutching my leg, paralyzed with shyness. She watches everything and takes it all in; she learns from seeing what others are doing. They have their own interests and their own styles. They also have their own speeds for learning and reaching milestones. Every kid is different — they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.
So why, then, do we hold tight to the idea that every kid should do certain things by a certain age? I know it’s a standard, and that’s great, but where does that leave the rest of us? Stressed the crap out. I’m a busy, homeschooling mom that is active in my church, and trying to turn a passion for writing into something more than a hobby. I don’t have the time or the energy to worry about what your kid is doing that mine is not. I don’t want to compare my kid to all the others. Your kid is doing pre-algebra at five? That is amazing, and I’m happy for you. My kid didn’t stick a pea in her nose today, and I’m counting that as a win. I love my kids dearly, and I struggle with the fact that my son isn’t spelling words how the other kids his age do, or how my daughter refuses to form her letters properly. But you know what? They are learning just at their own speed, and one day, they will get it. I forget how my seven-year-old son is reading just as well as some teenagers that come through my husband’s youth group, or my five-year-old has the drive to go to our schoolroom by herself, get her books out, and get to work.
Their interests drive them, and I am okay with that. My goal while they are learning is to ensure that I’m not teaching the creativity and wonder out of them. I want them to explore and create worlds of their own. I want them to research and design cardboard robots, because that’s what they’re into this week. If they want to write and illustrate a book to have published on Kindle, then that’s what we’re going to do.
Why do we try keeping up with the Joneses, the Smiths, the Johnsons, and the rest of the neighborhood? I am my own person, my husband is his own person, and my kids are most definitely their own people. It was never my goal growing up to blend in; in fact, I spent part of my youth ensuring I didn’t. So why would I think my kids would be any different?
For all you stressed out mamas out there worried to death because your kid isn’t up to level, it will come, and if it doesn’t, you will get help for it. But, in the meantime, relax, love on your baby, and take some of that stress off of yourself. Let them see you creating, so that they will feel the freedom to do the same… the freedom to explore the passion that one day, they may turn into a living, just like Mama is trying to.
A.B. Turner is a fantasy-romance, young adult author who resides in a small suburb of Atlanta with her husband of seventeen years, two children and a crazy miniature pinscher rescue. When she is not writing, she is homeschooling her kids, wrangling the dog or working at her church.