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Joyful Imperfect Art

I am not an artist, in the drawing, moulding, paper mâché, bubble letters kind of way. Going through elementary school, I struggled with art so much in that I wanted to love it and I wanted to create beautiful things...but I just didn't.

The one and only time I enjoyed an assignment was in grade 6. Our teacher, Mrs. Forrest, did a guided drawing lesson. We had to follow the directions one step at a time. The drawing was of a house with front steps leading to a porch and a tall roof. Square windows and a rectangle chimney. Straight lines everywhere. It was my kind of drawing.

To this day, I can still draw that house... and that house became the star of every drawing contest I would ever enter. I hated those stupid school drawing contests. I knew I'd never win...and I so wanted to win...but the competitive side of me wouldn't let me not enter. So at Christmas, I added glitter and a Christmas tree to the front window. In spring, I added colourful flowers. In Fall, the tree had no leaves.

I took that plain, boring house and dressed it up as best I could, just to have a chance at winning a first place ribbon in a drawing contest. I added glitter, people... glitter.

I never won. I just didn't have the talent for it. I still don't. And I'm ok with that.

But today is Friday and my 14 year old has Art class this afternoon. And he's not ok with that.

Because, it seems that I have passed down my no-good-at-art gene to this particular child. He has managed to come home with some decent projects over the elementary years but now that he's in high school and the requirements are a little more advanced, he really and truly sucks at art.

So, on Friday mornings, as we drive to school, he tells me about the math test he's looking forward to and learning some space-time-continuum-something-or-other in science. And then he stops at art and his face drops...he just hates it so much.

We call it FART... Friday Art... because it stinks but you have to do it.

He never bring his artwork home anymore. He's disappointed in himself and he doesn't want to share it with anyone else. To be honest, we do usually laugh at it. But today, I asked him to bring me something for Mother's Day. Something that was a piece that he'd created.

I got a hard "No!" from him. And then he asked me why I'd want it anyway. I said "because it brings me joy because you made it".

"Like my fish in grade 7?"

Ah, the fish. Now that was an art project gone wrong. It had way too many elements for my non-artsy boy. The class was charged with making impressive paper mâché sea animals for a fundraiser. These had to be high class in order to sell them to raise money for their year end trip.

They had to make a wire frame, cover it with paper mâché, paint it, and then, use garbage found on the beaches in creative ways to cover it.

There were beautiful sea turtles with beach glass and bottle cap eyes. There were jelly fish with tails of clean, pop can plastic. There were fish with shiny aluminum scales.

And then, there was a white, elongated blob with a bit of glitter.

I knew in my heart, that it was mine. This kid, with the same lack of art talent had used glitter to fancy up his really bad sea creature. And my heart beat with joy.... and then some laughter.

But I got it. I understood his desire to create something beautiful and then failing so miserably because it just wasn't his thing.

I didn't buy it. He didn't want me to and I'm sure it ended up in the garbage instead of on someone's shelf.

I told him today that I'm still sad that I didn't get it. He said, "so you can laugh at it?" I said, "No, because it brings me joy in it's imperfection".

And it's so true. And such a great reminder this morning of finding joy in the imperfect. My kids, my house, my all imperfect and all full of joy.


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