MonstersU should be MonstersV, as evidenced by this Monster Vagina drawing*
They say that if you have a passion for something, your energy and excitement about that something will translate to your kids, that they too will appreciate it (if not full-on enjoy it) just because they see what delight you bring to the subject. This is a lie.
Of course some kids are wired to share the same talents and interests as their parents. But, I’m not talking about inclinations and inherited traits, here, no. There are children who, because Dad loves soccer, also lover soccer, even if s/he isn’t what you’d classify as “athletic.” Though, more likely, the kid is simply trying to gain approval and earn praise from his parents. My kids don’t care so much about my approval.
With my “No TV During The Week” rule, and with school being out for summer, Camp Stephanie has opened her gates, which aside from an overdose of sunblock and swimming, has consisted of trips to the library and museum. Different museums, from the hands-on children’s museum to the Museum of Modern Art and to smaller museums geared toward adults. Big fans like their mama? Let’s not pretend. That would be a “no,” not even close. Still, I drag their asses with me, sketch pads, charcoal, and pastels. “No erasers, because there are no mistakes in art.” Another lie.
I’ve taught them how to read the museum wall labels. They know where to look to find the artist’s country of origin, date of birth and death, the title and materials; they even know that the last number on some pieces indicates the date the art was acquired into the museum’s collection and its order among the other art they received that year. I am proud of this. They just want to know where the gift shop is.
Typically, after we’ve spent a morning at the museum, we’ll follow it up with a hands-on project related to something we’ve seen at the museum. If we’ve played with plank blocks at the children’s museum, for example, we’ll spend more time doing it at home, only I’ll challenge them with more questions (If we stack the blocks on their sides, how many do we need to stack so they’re the same height as one block standing vertically? How many do we need to lie flat to make the same width as this one?). There’s nothing slick about my sneaking education into play. It’s why Abigail tries to cut me off mid-sentence. “Mama,” she says raising a stop sign signal hand, “could you just not?”
She at least enjoys the art projects we do. After seeing an exhibit on cars, where I taught them about the “Subject” of a piece of art vs. the “Style” (easily demonstrated in Corvette #2 by Paul Giovanopoulos, shown above) we went home to create collages, using maps to create the shape of a car. “Why would we use maps, and not, say, plain construction paper?”
Something is stirring. “Oh, ’cause we use maps when we’re driving.”
“No we don’t, Abby. We use the GPS lady who’s always wrong,” Lucas says. They get it, even if they don’t always like having to get it.
I enjoy being able to share this with them. It’s something I can give to them that comes easily to me. Though it doesn’t feel easy when they’re restless and try to touch the art and the security guard has to warn them. I need to remind them, force them to sit on a bench, criss-cross apple sauce on the floor, as I ask them to search for “an apple,” “a donkey,” “an axe.” “Why do you think the artist used this symbolism?”
“Because he wanted to kill you as much as we do?” They don’t say this. Give it a year or so.
I feel proud of myself, feel like a good mother, when I make the effort to do this with them. One day they likely won’t thank me, which is fine, because I do it as much for them as I do for myself, so I can feel good about the mother I am, so I can rationalize not having posted to my blog, justify not having written anything. And on the afternoon I decided to take them to see Despicable Me 2, I at least encouraged (read: forced) them to make their own pop-up books, drawing the characters from Monster’s University. Huh? We were going to see Monster’s U, but after seeing both trailers, we opted for Despicable Me 2. Yes, despicable me, museum mama.
* Was I “fingering” the drawing to be obscene? Or, was I simply showcasing the 3D level of detail? Art: open to interpretation.
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