Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taking pride in your work

Some where along the way, children learn to compare. Is it innate, part of their nature, to compare themselves with others, or is it something that they develop when they see us comparing and contrasting. We all do it, we do it unconsciously, even when we tell ourselves all about individuality. Comparing, in some ways, leads to imitation, and that helps us to learn.

Yesterday when Sophia and Anjali were playing in the playground, eleven month old Veer, who is just learning to toddle saw the two girls clkimbing the ramp. As Veer's mother and I exchanged pleasantries, it soon became apparent to us that he was trying to copy Sophia as she climbed the ramp. ofcourse, he cant walk much yet, and his attempts often ended up with his bottom on the playground floor. He was not in the least bothered by it, but kept ploughing on up the ramp. I could literally see the determination in his face - If these girls can do it, he thinks - so can I.

Yet comparing and competition results in the development of a complex. We know this about competitions where children do their best and still do not get the prize and then they donot want to compete again.

Something happened at home yesterday after we got back from the playground. I had planned heart printing - to get a bit into the Valentine day spirit. There were some old foam vegetable trays. I had discovered earlier that printing with the foam trays works much better than printing with cardboard or craft foam, and ofcourse, it is recycled and everything. So last night, I cut out three hearts out of an old cucumber tray and gave them with red and purple paints to the girls. As I was free, I also joined the painting. Anjali printed for about ten minutes and then said, rather tearfully

"Why my heart is not as nice as yours?"

"You heart looks very nice", I replied

"No. I want my hearts to be like yours"

I paused. I needed to think this out carefully. I could teach her techniques for better printing, but this didnt seem like the time to point out errors.

"Your heart doesnt look like mine Anjali", I said finally, "because they are not my hearts. They are your hearts."

"But I want my heart to be like yours". More tears

I picked her up and took her to the room. "Nicks. Your heart reflects the person you are. You are not the same as me. You are your own person. So your work can be different from mine, and still be beautiful. Ok?"

A little more tears

"See your painting. Its your work right?"

"Did you do your best when you painted it?"


"Thats all that matters. Not whether it looks like mummy's or not."

She nodded. "Now do you want to hang all our hearts on the wall?" I asked

"Want to wash hand", said Sophia, who had a load of purple and red paint on her hands and feet along with the paper prints, none of which looked remotely like hearts. Husband helped to wash Sophia up.

"Mummy", she said, returning from the bathroom "i taking one Schisshors and one schotch tape for you fyom the lightbulb lab!"

Oh. Its much easier when they are two year old!

"Letsh hang the paintings mummy", she continued.

Thankfully, Anjali perked up. "I want to hang them here in the bedroom", she said. "so that I can see them when they dry"

We hung the paintings up. Honestly, Anjali's heart prints didnt look all that different from mine - I'll put up some pictures if I get around to taking them, but they really looked like mine and a casual observer wont be able to distinguish whether a child did them or an adult. Just that hers were red and mine were more purple. 

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