So many times we, as adults have difficulties seeing the world the same way our teenagers do.
When explaining ideas to very young minds we delight in the feedback of children’s own interpretations and imaginations. Their ideas are “brilliant”, and they mature and grow in the glow of positive self esteem. Just when we think we have a good grasp on this parenting thing, our kids become teens. Teens want to act with self confidence, but truly this time of life is as explorative as when they were young. At the same time, for us, the element of desiring to see life through their eyes has diminished. Instead of offering our praises, our focus is on our expectations of them.
When I learned that this month’s magazine was focusing on teens, I said, “oh boy”, should I take this one on? (So much for my self confidence!) I sat down with my daughter, who just happens to be 15 and asked her what she thought about input I might offer. Her enthusiastic and immediate response simply blew me away. Without hesitating, she looked up and said, “wow mom, you’ll be great at that, look how terrific I turned out!” Well, out of the mouths of babes, what more could I ask for? I’ve raised three children, my daughter being my youngest. I consider being a mom my greatest learning venture. It’s an evolvement of continuous changes and has totally colored my world with love. When I began teaching, my art classes were primarily made up of children ages kindergarten through sixth grade. Teaching these inquisitive ages proved to definitely keep me on my toes.
I learned quickly to never underestimate the amount of questions kids think to ask and ultimately this taught me what I call “balanced perspective”. Teaching, but also listening; inspiring while creating challenges, and building confidence and pride in oneself with an innate hunger for more knowledge.
In the past year I have begun teaching a teen drawing class, which has quickly become one of my favorite classes of the week. I am determined to bring a certain amount of artistic pride to this capsule of time where confidence is as precarious as walking a tight rope. Perhaps my inner self challenge to ignite the curiosities of my art students is now kicked into high gear, and perhaps it’s even working for they are producing amazing works with the pencil!
When I was young, black and white television never bothered me that was so, until my friend Susan’s family got a big new color t.v.! It’s funny to think back how we all sat around watching, as if we had never seen anything in “color” before! It really hadn’t been missed until now, for we saw in the hues of the grey’s all the color our imaginations needed. That’s what these teens are learning, to create through shading and light a whole world of color. To be confident in handling light intensities and dark intensities whether drawing an old world scene, a futuristic metal object or the view outside our art room with water, trees, reflection, stones and pathways. Calculating, with a little “mathematical” eye distance and learning “aged” wood varies in coloration from young trees. For this time in our class, amidst chitter-chatter among the students, beauty is born on papers! The kids look up and tell me they are proud of what they did! What more can we ask? I smile, as do their parents.
There are as many ways to approach art as there are mediums and art tools to choose from. A parent of one of my students recently sent me an article she read that was in The Washington Post. The article referenced a book about skills that help children succeed. I loved that creativity was listed first! She wrote about teaching kids to approach projects from different perspectives and think outside the box!
Sing your own tune through life and have fun with it! The author also talked about confidence and skills created through theater and drama. Well, last night I watched my own daughter perform in her high school production of the musical Grease. The kids were dynamic! They knew the power of their own roles and depended on the entire cast as a whole. Their dedication, collaboration, and determination were fantastic. They were proud, their teachers were proud, and we in the audience were proud of them!
In raising teens we as parents may have to begin to think outside the box a little and renew our own perspectives. Take the time to enjoy your teens and their individual colorful personalities! This time of sculpting tomorrow’s future leaders will pass all too quickly.
Blessings to you all!
Andrea Seiderman is a commissioned artist and teacher who lives in Charleston, S.C. She enjoys frequent trips to the ocean with her family to enjoy sights,