So, here we are, the end of high school for Hippie Child. After this it’s study, study, for the HSC exams in October … and then … well I’m not thinking about what comes next … I’m taking the denial approach.
To say this year has been difficult would be an understatement. You see it turns out Hippie Child has a creative streak so she has ended up studying both Art and Music. It seems you have to put in a bloody lot of work to prepare for a career of unemployment.
There’s been a massive five-panel art piece in watercolour and pencil, there’s been a music composition (an interesting choice considering I don’t think she can actually read music) and three performances which included back-up singers, a professional drummer, and mates on guitars.
The process of getting this all done has been EXCRUTIATING.
So in a bid to help those of you who still have time to save yourself from this living hell here’s my top advice in regards to children and creativity.
Do nothing to encourage creativity in your children.
That finger-painting you set up on the back patio when she was three will see you driving the streets in the middle of the night trying to find somewhere to buy a pencil sharpener because she’s managed to lose the three she had and you can’t complete a pencil drawing with blunt pencils. (This might be an easier task if you live in the city, in a regional town your options at 9.30pm are limited to say the least).
Putting those coloured dots on that white wall at the Queensland Art Gallery during one of your many visits in her early childhood will find you on your hands and knees at one am trying to layout the major work in the correct interconnecting order while she cries “there’s too much white space”, “I haven’t got enough done for the progress mark”, “I’m going to fail”.
Under no circumstances should you highlight those kindergarten drawings of stick people. Sticking them up on the fridge just makes her believe that her work is worthy of display and will seep into her unconscious mind and whisper to her when she is making those HSC choices “you’re good at drawing, maybe you should do art”.
Remember when you clapped and cheered her performance of “hot potato” when she was a toddler? Fast forward 16 years and you, the tone-deaf, uncoordinated you, who nobody has ever encouraged to sing or dance (because quite frankly it hurts both their eyes and ears when you do) will be holding a hair brush, screeching out-of tune, wriggling your hips (as much as you can with your bad back) and trying to show her how you put a “performance” into your music because she keeps getting marked down for not “performing” enough despite her beautiful voice.
In the worst case scenario
If, despite my advice, you end up in the situation of living with a HSC student studying any of the arts you need to be prepared. Develop a cohort of other parents with whom you can cry, curse and who will keep you out of the house while the children are “creating”.
Budget – just like a home renovation project getting an artistic student through the HSC will involve a budget blowout – there will always be something more needed from paint, to resin, to pencils to paper or private tuition ahead of a big performance – just put yourself forward for any extra overtime you can find.
Apparently trying to “create” to a deadline does something diabolical to an artistic child’s brain. They become frazzled, contrary, a bit rude and the world revolves them and their “major work”. Do not engage. Ignore. Take deep breaths. Count to 150. But do not engage. It’s a molten mess of emotional angst if you do and you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
You may start this process as an organic eating, yoga loving, all natural individual, by the end you will be scoffing chocolate, swilling alcohol or popping pills as you lie on the lounge crying “how did she end up with talent?” You can’t get through this without developing some sort of chemical dependence just accept it.
Footnote: The youngest has just come home with her report card – she got 92% in art – dear Lord I can’t go through this again!