Today’s blogging prompt from WordPress is the single word, “original.”
One of the fun things about responding to blogging prompts, in my opinion, is that you never know quite where they’ll lead you! It’s interesting to see what comes unlocked in your head when you give yourself a starting point (like a one-word prompt) and then just let your mind meander. I like doing that!
So, what I immediately started thinking about when I saw the word “original” was the act of creating something: Something that is inherently original because it comes from inside of a person, and is thus utterly unique to them.
That got me thinking of a photo I edited this weekend* of my son, drawing. (Embedded below!)
And that in turn took me to musing about modes of expression (something I’ve pondered a lot in the last year or two, as I’ve gotten so heavily into photography. In this post, for example.)
I started thinking of that particularly as witnessed in my kids.
And that seemed like a good place to stop meandering and start writing!
One of the things I’m conscious of most loving about my kids’ current ages (almost-10 and 7) is that they are able now to express themselves in a variety of different ways. Their takes on the world are so interesting! I love exploring them.
I’ve of course long loved this. Seeing the world through the eyes of a toddler or even a baby is really fascinating, and makes you re-evaluate yourself and what you take for granted in your day-to-day life in ways that are really enriching.
But a lot of that kind of insight, with little ones, is drawn from observation and extrapolation. I mean, a toddler – and certainly an infant! – can’t tell you much about their thought processes. You can’t dig in to the “why” and the “how” and the “what if” with them very well.
It’s a totally different story with elementary-age kids – and I love it! I love to ask (and answer) questions and dig in to things with them. And the fact that both of my kids are incredibly expressive, but that they use different sets of communication tools as their mediums of choice, just makes it even more interesting.
My seven-year-old daughter, for example, is a chatterbox! (Not unlike her mom, I guess!) Like me, while there’s a lot going on inside of her head, she also works a lot of the kinks out via conversation and speech. She’s a voracious reader, too – something that occasionally spills over into an urge to write her own stories. So her self-expression is very naturally verbal-centric.
She does like to draw a lot, and she’s very expressive with color. Ever since she was very young, I could see the effect color had on her, and recognized the way she used it for expression – and it’s something I can see really strongly today in her burgeoning fashion sense, which is really, really interesting to me. But when all is said and done, words and text are her primary vehicles for communication.
Her older brother works differently. He’s dyslexic, for one thing, so is, in some very major ways, barred from any easy facility with verbal mediums.
He definitely likes to talk! Neither of my kids are what I would term shy or retiring in that area 🙂 And he’s articulate, with a good vocabulary. But I wouldn’t call him a chatterbox, really. His sister does everything out loud. Not him. When he’s feeling something deeply, or when he has something he’s struggling to express, or when he’s trying to untangle complex thoughts, his communication medium of choice, the one he finds most satisfying and effective, is visual art – specifically drawing.
He has the talent to back this up too. The photographer and art historian in me is thrilled about this! And the mom in me is so extraordinarily grateful. Because he’s an empathetic, thoughtful, sensitive kid – the kind of kid who, by temperament and pure interest should be chilling out by losing himself in a book or writing out his emotions, in a journal or in story form. And he can’t. I mean, he can read – but it’s not easy and it’s not relaxing. And he’s the kind of kid that needs a creative outlet that allows him to tell stories, talk about himself, untangle complexities, and express himself.
He definitely has that in his drawing.
I feel like I’m sort of an amalgamation of my kids. My affinity for color isn’t as strong as my daughter’s perhaps – but it’s definitely present. I feel it mostly in myself in a certain sensitivity and awareness to casts of light – which influences my photography hugely. I can’t draw well at all (or paint or anything of that nature – though I have fun dabbling in that sometimes, when I’m in the mood!) But I LOVED studying art history in school, and have a pretty good visual eye. Things-visual are really important to me and compelling, both intellectually and emotionally.
I also do love to write! I see a lot of myself in my daughter – in the way she talks and expresses herself verbally, in her affinity for writing stories, etc.
But photography, without a doubt, is my purest form of expression – and I feel an affinity with my son’s drawing in that.
I wouldn’t rush my kids from where they are, developmentally, even if I could – because I’m really enjoying the ages they are right now! But I admit that I’m also excited for them to get just a little bit older too – to be able to talk with them about these more philosophical ideas about art and expression, to hear their takes and dig in a little bit with them about it all.
I’m so excited to see where their talents in these areas take them, too! I love that I get a front row seat for that. I feel very fortunate in that!
*The photo was for my submission to EyeEm’s “School of Photography” – a weekly program that just started last week. They’re doing it in conjunction with Creative Live – and I’m pretty excited about it, I have to say!! I found EyeEm about two years ago, and have sold some photos through them; they’re a really interesting organization, doing innovative things (and they’re super-nice people to boot, in every dealing I’ve had with them.) I’ve really enjoyed being involved with them, and have gotten a lot of encouragement from them – which I’m really grateful for! And then Creative Live I found more recently, via the (free!) “Thirty Days of Genius” video series they made (which was great!!). I haven’t taken any of their courses yet – but I really want to.
I was super-excited to see EyeEm and Creative Live were actually joining together to do this School of Photography thing. It feels like “worlds colliding” – but in the best possible sense!!!