25 Jan The Parent Traps… and Releases
I know both from memory, and reminders by mother, that I could be a real brat when my I was a kid. This knowledge give me a great deal of empathy for my parents, my kids, and myself. When my daughters brat out, I take a deep breathe, forgive them for their sins for a while, and eventually explode at them. Unfortunately, these bursts of anger often achieve their desired effect of quieting my whining children, which only encourages me, on some unconscious level, to go to that place when their negative behaviors do not abate with prolonged calm and gentle reminders. Last night when we went to the 919 local artists show at the Nasher Museum of Art I did well, most likely because we only had 1 kid in tow.
Too often my wife and I avoid doing adult things because we just don’t want the hassle of convincing kids to go and they are reticent to accept a babysitter. My empathy for them gets the better of me most of the time, so perhaps we don’t push them to accept one as much as we should. However, it was important to me to go to this show because I knew a couple of the artist’s work and was excited to see it in this august setting. I had also been thinking a lot about how important it is to simply bring kids into adult environments. I have very powerful memories of being in the company of adults when I was a kid. I was also deeply influenced by simply being around art when I was young. I know that I must have protested going to some museums etc, but even the art books around the house were powerful for me.
So last night we bit the bullet and took our youngest to the show. My wife graciously dragged her around for a while as I talked to a couple of old friends and looked at the art. My daughter got particularly frustrated while I was taking too long to look at the complex work of Lavar Munroe (one of which is pictured above). She was both sad and angry and I wasn’t sure why, but I knew that she did not want to be there. I didn’t bother her with questions, but instead just kind of sat looking at her, occasionally asking her to tell me what was wrong. She got madder and sadder and eventually calmed down. A few minutes later we went out into the lobby and I sat with her in my lap as my wife ran back in to look at the art. I know that my daughter gets overwhelmed by crowds, but I still think it’s important for her to experience them. After talking to a couple more people, we made our way to the after party where a friend of hers thankfully showed up. We commiserated with the friend’s parents about our reluctance to do fun adult things, and then we all left by 9:30.
I went to bed early, as I haven’t been getting enough sleep. I woke at 4:20, and couldn’t go back to sleep and began to think a lot about my father who died 9 years ago today. My wife had gone into our daughter’s room so I dictated some of these random ramblings into my phone for a while before eventually falling asleep again around 7. When I woke up I smelled coffee and wandered out to the kitchen. My daughter came running toward me with a way early birthday card. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was inspired by Lavar Munroe’s work. It started as a doodle that turned into a story and it was both a thank you for bringing her and an apology for being so resistant. I have never felt more successful as a parent.