“Mommy, can you come help me finish my drawing?” Let me tell you, this can end one of one ways and it is never good. The request seems sweet and sincere and I do want to help her, however I could be a world renowned artist and I can guarantee that whatever I do will not be quite right. I reluctantly agree to help her finish drawing arms and hands on her self portrait and I brace myself for what is to come. Let me point out that this self portrait is in my mother-in-law’s birthday card that I have asked her to sign her name to, however she felt that she needed to draw a picture of herself for grandma because she wants to show her grandma she loves her more than the rest of us.
It starts out well I have to say. She had started the arms from about the middle of the torso and wanted me to extend them out and draw hands because as she told me, “You know that I am not a good hand drawer”. By the way, not biting on that at all, I know she is setting me up and I tell her that I think she draws wonderful hands. I draw the first one, with pencil of course, and ask for her opinion. She tells me it looks good and that I should draw the other one the same way. I do and she seems happy, I feel like I may have finally succeeded at something in her eyes and get up to finish folding the laundry I was pulled away from. As I pick up a pair of pants and shake them out I hear, “Mommy, can you come here and take a look at this and tell me what’s wrong?” My chin drops to my chest, I shake my head slowly and head back to the table where it all began.
“Take a look at these arms and tell me what’s wrong?” I am not sure, because 90 seconds ok they had been deemed good by her and now there was something wrong with them. She then says, “Take a look at your arms and see where they come from, it’s from the shoulder right? Then why would you draw them from the belly?” OK, let me bite my tongue and not remind her that she had drawn the limbs from the belly and asked me to finish them. The immature child in me wants to yell this out, but the mother that knows less conflict is good says, “You’re right sweetie, arms do start at the shoulder”. As I am saying this, the ‘immature me’ is wrestling with the ‘good mommy me’ and trying desperately to get out. The ‘immature me’ has the ’good mommy me’ in a choke hold, but the ‘good mommy me’ elbows the ‘immature me’ in the uterus and wins.
We fix the arms and move to the hands, I am confident I can draw a reasonable hand that will be accepted by the six year old art critic. I draw the first hand while she watches me for mistakes and she seems to agree that the new hand on the new arm is ok. She then decides that she will draw the second hand and I feel as if I have been released. Not the case, I am supposed to sit there and watch as she draws the hands no less than 10 more times getting more upset each time she erases and restarts. For some reason she is angry with me and starts crying and telling me, “See I told you I am a bad hand drawer!!!” After a few more attempts she asks me to draw the new hand and I do, she seems happy once again.
Not quite…we move onto decorating the self portrait. “Mommy, what color shirt should I draw on me?” I suggest blue, as she is wearing blue and it is currently her favorite color. “No, I don’t think that is a good color”. Then why the hell did you ask me? This is an ongoing battle that ’good mommy me’ has with ‘immature me’, my child will ask my opinion again and again and every time I provide it I am shot down. The kicker of these battles is that after I grow weary and walk away she does exactly what I suggested in the first place.
So the card is decorated and hidden until it is time to mail, I am not having anymore re-dos and I am not providing anymore artistic support. It’s funny how easy it is to wear me down from the “I know I can do this”, to “I think I can” to the final resignation of “At least I tried and I didn’t beat my kid in the process”. I am giving myself good mommy points for that and allowing myself an extra glass of wine come Friday.