My kids have only been in school a few days but my last and youngest is already having problems. There are three items in his incomplete folder, while everyone else’s is empty. The reason for this is that he’s taking his time with his artwork, hoping to impress his teacher and get off on the right foot with her. But he keeps messing up, erasing, and starting over again, which eats up all of his time. Like me, he has grandiose visions of perfection that he just can’t seem to translate to reality. He then gets frustrated and shuts down, comparing himself to his neighbor who doesn’t get bogged down with the burden of perfectionism and is actually enjoying — and finishing — the assignment.
To help him, I gave him a pep talk about how it is good to take our time but not to worry about being perfect.
“You know, art is one of those things that doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. In fact, some of the world’s best artists were messy on purpose.”
“Good, because you should see my self-portrait.”
The self-portrait was one of the first things my son had to do in his new classroom. Without thinking it through, he plowed ahead, drawing a big round head high up on the paper. Then, he went to town coloring the white background green, completely forgetting to leave room for hair. Panic set in, and he tried to erase the green crayon on top of his head. After that didn’t work, he located the blonde crayon which is very hard to find (kids with brown hair: you don’t know how easy you have it) and colored over the green, but you couldn’t even tell.
“Did you try a yellow crayon?”
“Mom, my hair isn’t yellow. It’s blonde.”
Having now exhausted all of his hair options, he gave up and used an easily accessible but inaccurate brown crayon and moved on to the nose, eyes and mouth. He tried his best but since he was running out of time they came out awful (especially the mouth) and that’s when he realized he drew his head too high and as a result would now have a big, long neck.
“So when you go to my classroom and want to know which self-portrait is mine, just look for the one that is bald with a long neck.”
We were crying with laughter and I could not wait to see his teacher at pick-up the next day. I told her his self-portrait sounded like a hot mess and she was kind enough to snap a picture of it with her phone so that I didn’t have to wait until back-to-school night.
Here is a side-by-side photo of my beautiful boy and his equally as beautiful (just in a different way) self-portrait: