I remember one day, as a little girl, I was coloring in a coloring book. My grandma was visiting and she said to my mother, “You need to teach Cathy to color inside the lines. She’s just scribbling all over the page.” From the tone of her voice I could tell she was disgusted and displeased with me.
I remember another day when I was older, probably 11 or 12, and this same grandma was teaching me to embroider on a pillow case. She said to my mother, “Cathy is so good at embroidery. Her stitches are so even and straight.” From the tone of her voice I could tell she was impressed and pleased with me.
It’s interesting that I remember these two comments, one negative and one positive. Through all these years I still remember them and can hear the tone of voice my grandmother used. I love my grandma and she was a very kind and loving grandma. She just didn’t realize that young children are not capable of coloring inside lines until they reach a certain maturation point in their life.
What do we say to our children that will remain with them and influence them? I once told my daughter as she reached for another helping of potatoes, “Do you really think you need another potato?” This was interpreted in her mind of saying, “You’re getting too fat and shouldn’t be eating any more.” After she was grown and married, she told me one day how this had hurt her. I felt so bad and apologized for saying it, but it still remains with her in her memory.
Notice your tone of voice when you talk to your children. Be gentle and positive. Be awestruck at their accomplishments. Be enthusiastic when they tell you something. Give them positive feedback. Provide them with a memory of how good and wonderful they are.
By the way, I didn’t turn out to be an artist but I do love to sew. Maybe my talents were manifested at a young age, or maybe my grandma influenced my interests. Who knows?