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Here, you misplaced your laughter

Valentine's Day, 1980, my older sister came home from school with a drawing for my mother. It was of a heart, a long heart, a bit pinched at the top and stretched out on the bottom, like a fought-over piece of taffy. My mother laughed. Not a nice laugh.  And when I heard her, my heart hurt for my sister. Even before I saw my sister's face, I knew that my mother's laugh had done something to her. Sure enough, I never saw my sister draw again. She was 7.

A while back, an aunt of mine mailed some pictures to me at my mil's house. Because I was impatient to see them, I asked my mil to open the envelope and show them to me via SKype.  Enclosed was a drawing I had done when I was 7.

miq giraffe 7.5 yrs

When she saw it, my mil laughed. Not a nice laugh.  "Ha! Look how big you made the giraffe! You sure don't know anything about proportions, do you!?" Knowing that my mil is not artistically inclined herself and being well over the age of 7 myself, I was able to dismiss her jibes, but part of me thought, How hurtful would that laughter have been to me as a child?



As it was, I was pretty chuffed at how well I had done without a reference photo, without Wikipedia around to let me know that giraffes don't eat apples. And I know from up close and personal experience just how big giraffes are, so the joke is on her, so to speak.

And then this, from a journal entry 23.04.2013:
I also want to do some rough sketches for Beanie and the fish book idea I have...I remember now that once upon a time, while I was at university, I thought about writing and illustrating children's books. A forgotten dream! Another thing I let people discourage me from with tales of "It's too hard/near impossible to break into."  And instead of using their "helpful," well-intentioned discouragements to work harder, I took their comments as a veiled way of saying that I wasn't good enough and left it at that. I could have used them as fuel to practice and improve.



Instead, I gave up, thinking, "Well, my passion isn't deep enough. Guess that means it isn't my calling."



Well, to hell with well-intentioned discouragements and misplaced laughter. I'm trying my hand at it anyhow.  To quote again from that journal entry: Don't fold. Resist. Keep trying. Get better.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
frigg
Feb. 13th, 2015 09:37 pm (UTC)
Just listen to yourself and trust yourself. :)
clarentine
Feb. 15th, 2015 01:39 pm (UTC)
What she said!
mnfaure
Feb. 16th, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC)
hehe. And what I said to her. :P
mnfaure
Feb. 16th, 2015 07:34 pm (UTC)
Much easier said that done. And even then, it needs saying over and over and over. :P Apparently I'm a slow study.
green_knight
Feb. 13th, 2015 09:49 pm (UTC)
Boo sucks to the discouragers. I'm totally impressed by seven-year-old you, because at that age I was completely incapable of coming up with _anything_ to draw. (And I more or less gave up trying things out when my art teacher laughed at me in front of the whole class at around that age).

I think it's ok to decide that something is too much work; but it's also ok to change your mind (especially as the world, thanks to the internet, has changed so much; what may have been true in when you were in college isn't the same thing now.

The brother of a friend is a professional choir singer. He's not a soloist, but he makes a steady living... *and so do most of the people he sings with*. That's another 'job' that doesn't exist.
mnfaure
Feb. 16th, 2015 07:38 pm (UTC)
(And I more or less gave up trying things out when my art teacher laughed at me in front of the whole class at around that age).

This burns me up and depresses me to no end because I know the same thing is happening all over the place all. the. time.

I think it's ok to decide that something is too much work; but it's also ok to change your mind (especially as the world, thanks to the internet, has changed so much; what may have been true in when you were in college isn't the same thing now.

Yes, yes, a hundred times yes.

Thanks for sharing about the non-existent singing job. :P It is a good reminder to think outside of the box in terms of "successfully" expressing one's creativity.
khiemtran
Feb. 14th, 2015 02:26 am (UTC)
What a crushing thing to do a child! I hope I've never done it myself by accident...
mnfaure
Feb. 16th, 2015 07:40 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean by that. I think it is very easy for us to "slip" and not even realize the repercussions our unguarded or unintentionally-hurtful reactions can have on others, especially children.
asakiyume
Feb. 14th, 2015 08:17 pm (UTC)
How absolutely terrible :(

I adore your giraffe. And as you say, I think your mil underestimates the size of giraffes.

Some people have such a tiny, poor, sense of possibility when it comes to art, design, expression. And also, little sense of how vulnerable a child is to mockery. Sometimes even when mockery isn't intended--you say "not a nice laugh," but sometimes even if the laugh **is** nice, sometimes even when a parent is laughing with joy and delight, a child can be terribly afraid they're being made fun of, especially if they've had the experience of mockery.

Keep trying--YES. A thousand yeses.
mnfaure
Feb. 16th, 2015 07:42 pm (UTC)
Never underestimate the size of a giraffe.
Sounds like good advice, doesn't it? :P

Yes to what you say about a laugh being misconstrued. If ever I laugh at something I make sure that Sprout (since she is the one creating and sharing at the moment) knows immediately that what she is showing me is bringing me immense joy and delight. :D
me_1956
Feb. 16th, 2015 04:43 pm (UTC)
I have always loved your creativity. Be it writing, drawing, painting, or crafting. Sprout gets her wonderful imagination from you and you have encouraged her all the way. Since I know where you were at age 7, I find it amazing how well you giraffe turned out. Raise above the naysayers and continue on your own path, leading your children to greatness. Love to all
mnfaure
Feb. 16th, 2015 07:32 pm (UTC)
I get such a kick out of watching Sprout come up with stuff. She makes the coolest things. :P
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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