We celebrated my daughter’s 7th birthday last week with a “craft” party in the park. (Our house is torn up, but that’s another story!) Having the party in the park turned out to be a plus though, because we got to pull out the glitter.
Everyone has a pet peeve. For my husband, it’s glitter. It drives him nuts to find little flecks on his clothes or his face and he does not allow glitter in the house.
My daughter and I went through an Oriental Trading Company catalog and picked out some fun projects she and her friends could work on. They each made a bracelet, decorated journal covers (with LOTS of glitter!), created fairy tale pictures and drew cartoon characters.
And for the record, I’m still combing glitter out of our hair!
But what caught my attention at the party was this conversation.
Girl 1: This picture is ugly.
Girl 2: No it isn’t.
Girl 1: It doesn’t matter. I could make the ugliest picture in the world and my Mom would still tell me it was beautiful.
Girl 2: Really?
Girl 1: It’s kind of funny. I’ll show her something really ugly and she’ll say, “Oh, Goose, that’s beautiful!”
At first glance you think, Oh, that’s sweet. Her mom loves her artwork even if it isn’t very good. But the nuance in her words, the expression on her face… If I was writing this as a scene for a book, I might show it this way:
Sara stared at the picture she had drawn, her eyes unfocused. “This picture is ugly.”
“No it isn’t!” Maria rushed to comfort her friend even though in the back of her mind she agreed.
Sara shook her head and pulled out a large blue marker. She studied the picture carefully then drew a gash in the side of the queen. “It doesn’t matter,” she sighed. “I could make the ugliest picture in the world and my mom would still tell me it was beautiful.”
Maria stared doubtfully at the picture as Sara added harsh strokes in the sky above the queen’s head.
“It’s kind of funny.” Sara’s mouth was a grim line. “I’ll show her something really ugly and she’ll say, ‘Oh, Goose, that’s beautiful!'” Sara clapped her hands together as she mimicked her mother’s voice.
Maria laughed at the imitation of her friend’s mother but her eyes were worried.
Sara smiled slowly. It was fun to make Maria laugh. She folded the picture in half, then in half again. She kept folding until the paper was nothing but a fat wad. She jammed the wad in the back pocket of her jeans and skipped off to the swing.
So tell me…is it more important to make someone think they have done a good job, or to be honest with your opinion? If you tell a child something is beautiful when it’s not, have you made them feel better about themselves or worse?