Child: Where do babies come from?
Parent: When a man or a woman loves a canvas very much…
Nine Months Later–
When a painting is born it can be as helpless as a newborn baby. You literally have to do everything for it — an awkward time because paintings don’t come with instructions or an owner’s manual like a bed from IKEA. Often there is that “trial and error” technique of parenting.
If you are patient and pay attention you will be the lucky recipient of baby’s first smile. What a joyful moment. If you have your phone handy, you probably turn this into an Instagram moment. (If you miss this one, don’t despair, there will be more opportunities along the way.)
Before you know it this little creature is developing a personality and will start to crawl around. Probably your next Instagramable moment. But be ready, because first steps are in everyone’s future. Depending on the child, or the parent, this is where things start to get tricky. Remember, we are still dealing with a less than fully-formed entity and it is our complete responsibility to keep baby safe. Gates on the stairs and cabinet locks are helpful.
Until now our newly born painting is fun. Fun like having a puppy is fun. The first “mama”, or “daddy” will melt your heart. But words that follow will often be demanding and yes, sometimes even annoying. Opinions shared by this youngster now are not always rational or well-reasoned. Remember, you’re still the parent.
As your toddler becomes more stable and coordinated you can begin to ease up on some of the safety precautions. The parent and child now will also occasionally have conversations that include full sentences that are both amusing as well as proof that there is such a thing as independent thought.
As the maturation process moves along, suddenly you will find that you have a teenager on your hands. Not only do we notice hair growing in places that there was none before and that lessons on personal hygiene need to be reviewed, but the age of defiance may be upon you. But with defiance also comes flashes of brilliance, and if we are wise we will pay attention to these pearls that our young ones present.
The closer your painting comes to being an adult, the more and more we need to switch our parental approach yet again. Because as our babies grow up, eventually they very well may know better than us what is best for them.
These serious discussions can be quite painful for us. Especially if we had other ideas for outcomes. But if we are really the loving parent we claim to have been all along, this conversation will likely be a real eye-opener for us. They are still our precious little bubbies and parenting is never really over. But the sooner we realize that our best move will be to help them be exactly what they want to be, everyone will be happier.