One Saturday, a couple of weeks ago, my son pointed to his art supply container in his closet and said, “I want to paint a picture.”
I almost tripped over myself, rushing to pull down the supplies. He is almost 5 ½ years old, but that was the very first time he has ever asked to do an art project. Over the years, we have bought every kind of art supply we could think of, from crayons to markers, sidewalk chalk, paint, glitter…you name it. But this child never had any interest in drawing or writing, and we knew his fine motor skills were behind.
At the kitchen table, I set up the watercolor paint, brushes, and cups of water. There was a packet of construction paper, and he chose the color he wanted. The insert of the paper packet showed a picture of a flower, and he said that was what he wanted to paint. “That is the perfect thing to paint,” I told him.
He could have painted nothing more than a few lines, or random scribbles, and I would have been excited. The fact that he initiated the painting, and sat at the table the entire time, until he was finished, was all the reward I needed. He even asked me, “do you want to paint some too?”
I gladly helped paint the petals on the flower. This little masterpiece was a big step for him, and I can’t wait to frame it. This one will hang on my wall forever.
This important little painting left me thinking. I wonder if parents of “typical” children feel things as intensely as those of us that are raising children with “special” needs? I’m sure every parent feels pride at their child’s art, but do they fight back tears like I do, because I know it’s much more than a painting, it’s a barrier that we’ve crossed. I think our kids work ten times harder to accomplish things that come easily to their peers, and we feel every triumph and setback all the way to our bones. I think it helps me to be a better parent, because I appreciate every achievement along the way, even the ones that would go unnoticed by most.