It is always great to see an interpretation of oneself in a drawing – especially when done by a 4 years old. There is a preciousness and an innocents, and a delightful crudeness that makes child portraiture drawing delicious. While I was distracted making dinner the other night Maya helped herself to a piece of paper and began this drawing. My attention turned to her sitting at the table with the beginnings of what she told me was “Daddy”. I was completely taken in by her lines and went to get the camera to document her process without any dialogue – other than when she almost lost her temper over a line.
“Ahhggrrhhh…look what I did!” She shouted like it was a major 4yr old catastrophe! “What did you do?” I inquired, putting down the camera – one should never be quick to judge a child’s drawing, and never make assumptions! “I did Daddy’s pants wrong.” She said with a folded arm humph. I could tell then she was on a climb to a precipitous abandonment of the drawing – that I desperately wanted to help her down from, so in a quick thinking whizz I started with solution suggestions. “You could make that line into a tree?” Met with a grumpier face – failed. “You could make it a leash for a dog” Neutral face, thinking face, pencil back in hand – success! “But I don’t know how to draw a dog.” She said, and while I was not pleased with her being hopeless, I was pleased the tantrum had been extinguished and I was now able to breath again. Problem 464 of the day solved, life may carry on – insert calm Mothering voice “Of course you can draw a dog, you know what a dog looks like. It has a head, a nose, some ears, a body, four legs and a tail”. I then drew a few variations of a dog on a spare piece of paper, with slow formed lines so Maya could watch the image take shape. Maya then happily attempted her first dog – which she declared “It looks silly” which of course was condoled with “I think it is a great dog, I like how it looks like it is jumping”. Maya was pleased with this and with new perspective said “It is a happy dog”. So with the resolution that we were all happy with the happy dog, Maya went back to drawing in silence and I went back to cooking dinner. The quiet remained long enough for me to become curious about what she was doing so I popped back to the table to see that she had drawn another figure. “This is a drawing of Mummy and Daddy” she said. I too was now a part of her wonderful image. “You have fancy clothes on, I did lots of frills” Maya said proudly. Maya then added a tree, and a bird, and said her drawing was finished. I looked down on her with a big smile and praise, and noticed I was baled. No one wants to boss a child about drawing but I could not help but say, “Does Mummy get some hair?” I mean come on now, not giving me hair, after all I have a lot of hair! For this her actions showed she agreed, Maya quietly put down her lead pencil and picked up a yellow pencil, and proceeded to colour in a mass of long yellow hair. “There, now it is done!” she said.
I picked up her drawing and studied it, giving her compliments for the well done eyes and mouths and the much improved hands and followed the critique up with “Oooowww and you gave me lovely yellow hair!”. I then lay the drawing down and went back to cooking dinner. All the while thinking this drawing is such a treasure, one of the small joys of motherhood. A portrait of Daddy and Mummy with a bird and a dog – By Maya.