Dear reader, occasionally I get a note from someone (usually my little brother) politely asking (or in his case demanding) to know why I haven't updated my blog.
I've been struggling with making regular visits to Tollipop for a number of reasons, mainly because I'm trying to balance my use of time with a greater sense of duty these days...and as I write out this phrase, I can't help but fear somewhere, somehow, a fairy just died.
However, I did want to mention I've discovered Instagram to be a small yet lovely alternative to my creative needs...certainly nothing quite as fulfilling as blogging but a brief, visual moment with a charm all its own. If you'd like to follow me there, the account is ktollipop...then you can see all the bugs I've been dying to tell you about yet haven't found the time!
Before I sign off, I want to share something that's been on my mind from my visit with Elsita the other night.
I asked how she managed to cultivate her artistic talent as a child, given the tumult of those years (she grew up in Cuba in conditions which would seem more likely to crush a creative light than foster it). I believe there's more to the answer than what Elsita shared, but her response is hugely significant all the same.
She said her mother always told her she had magic hands, that when she came home from work she'd call Elsita to her and ask for a massage, exclaiming that the little girl's fingers had a magical, healing touch. Elsita would walk away from those encounters filled with wonder at what her mother had said--this idea she had some special power, that something about her was amazing and unique.
Her mother also made a fuss over Elsita's drawings, a genuine interest and admiration, always exclaiming how beautiful they were, how brilliant and good.
I think that's it, dear reader. That's one of the great secrets to raising children who find, pursue, and possibly excel in what they love.
It's not about where you live, how much money you make, family size, if you're the perfect parent, or if life is smooth sailing...in my opinion, I sometimes think lives with too much abundance and ease unwittingly interfere with this process, as it seems to require some greater ability to focus.
As I reflect on Elsita's life I see a childhood that was filled with many daunting moments, presided over by a busy, single mother who struggled with cares of her own. Her mother did not rush out and send Elsita to private art lessons. She did not purchase pencil crayons in every color of the rainbow. But she did notice what made her child happy and was genuinely thrilled about it. She made Elsita feel gifted, special, and admired. Perhaps you could simply say she had faith in her daughter.
These thoughts bring me a degree of wonder, to consider the effect of genuine admiration upon a child, to think how parents have an immeasurable power to bring confidence to a child's world by what they choose to notice and admire.
I realize I haven't exactly invented the wheel with this revelation...believing in one's child is what every good parenting manual probably tells you to do. It's just that speaking to Elsita clarified in my mind how that one dynamic alone, even in the midst of less ideal conditions, can make a dramatic difference for good in the development of a child.
I am inclined to think the reverse is also true.
It goes to my feeling that the most important elements of raising a happy child are pretty much free, and that is as it should be.