I banned a word from my household.
I don’t wanna hear it again. But the sorry truth is, I was the one who started saying it. “oh, sweetie! What a beautiful drawing! It’s a masterpiece!”
So, like any kid who hears time and again that their art/writing/music is a masterpiece, my girls started thinking that everybody considers their work the be-all end-all. They started saying things like, “when will they play my song on the radio?” “When will they hang this in the museum, Mama? It’s a masterpiece, right?” Of course they assume these things, I mean, I practically brought each and every piece to the MOMA myself, hammer and nail in hand. I’m positive Simon Cowell would be blown away by my girls’ talent, and I’m tempted to get on the phone with Random House Publishing to see if I can secure them a book deal…
It wasn’t long before I realized I had to check my praise, lest I end up with two little girls walking around thinking they’re the next Renoir, Steinbeck, and/or Beethoven, when really they would be on the fast track to becoming the next Lindsay Lohan.
When the girls were babies, “A” and I listened to an NPR story that talked about the way parents encourage their kids. At one point, the parenting trend was to say things like “You can be anything you want!” “You can do anything!” “Of course you can win/succeed/achieve!” Problem was, this resulted in an era of kids who grew up thinking that yes, they can do anything, without ever considering the fact that they would have to work for it.
After hearing that, we decided we would emphasize hard work, effort, practice, the ol’ try, try again. Our girls now know, with complete certainty, that they will have to put their nose to the grindstone and work for what they want. And if they choose to do so, they could study, practice and persevere so that, yes, perhaps one day their work will be in a museum.
I’m their mother, and it’s my right to think every creative thing they do is pure perfection. I delight in every detail of what they make, and I praise them to a certain extent but nowadays, I stop myself before I declare it the “M” word. But, between you and me, when the girls go to bed at night, “A” and I ogle and shake our heads in admiration at that their latest achievement. Their seminal work. Their masterpiece.