I was talking to my kids as we sat and painted yesterday. We were all on the floor on our painting mat and i had laid out the water color cakes and some crayons. Nish was busy choosing his brushes and getting some water for his painting while Sid sat lost in thought…kind of pensive. “You want to paint?” I asked him. “Sure” he said though not super enthusiastically. “You don’t have to” I said. “Nish wanted to so I set it up. You can do something else”
He fidgeted with some crayons and asked for a paper. “Will you give me a star?” he asked. I thought he was generally asking for a tattoo…though he usually chose cars or spiderman for that. “Why not?” i replied. “Why do you want a star?”
“Didi does not give me star. Everyday Nish gets a star but I never get”
“Why does he get one? Why don’t you get one?” i asked
“Because didi says me coloring is ‘kacha-pacha’ (half baked, not proper)”
“Why is that?” i prodded
“Nish colors neatly inside the lines but mine is not so neat and inside the lines. Will you give me star?”
I cringe and feel sorry for the little fellow. For one, I had avoided keeping the focus on rewards like stars so far…it was more about feeling great about what you are doing…So if they paint something, we talk about it, ask them to describe it, and we either put it up, frame it or use it to make cards. We can be pretty candid while doing this…i do not hesitate to tell them if i feel they are not really putting in their best. I know what they are capable of and I know they feel proud when they do something well. And a lot of times i simply let them explore the paints and different media, recognizing that there is different learning happening at all points. But to have it all come down to a silly star on the hand??? that is what your art needs to mean to you? Is there perhaps a different way of pushing kids to do better or more. And do we need to revisit why we are getting them to do things? Sid has always lagged a little behind his twin in fine motor skills and initially even gross motor ones. He has slight muscle hypotonia and consistent physio and timely early intervention brought him fairly upto speed. But Nish generally has a better pincer grip and control while Sid is still working on it. I don’t want his self esteem tied to a star or him thinking that his art is “kacha pacha”. He has always enjoyed paints and art and I want it to stay that way. He does not have to be picasso or monet…i just want him to be able to create something, be able to look at it critically, be proud of something done well and recognize something that it not.
Am i over reacting?