I’ve been drawing since I was really, really young.
How young, I honestly have no idea. Maybe I should ask my folks. Anyhow, I do have some old pictures I did at a very young age, but more than that I literally cannot remember a time when “drawing” wasn’t one of my absolute favorite things to do.
I doodled on everything, growing up.
On walls. On church pews. On light switches (to turn them into faces, of course). In the margins and margins of school notebooks. My brother and I even made our own comic books at one point — a stick-figure love letter to Batman called The Bat. Later in life dad would proudly call on me to perform my own little party trick of being able to turn any random closed shape into a cartoon character. Many a birthday or wedding would come and I’d produce a caricature as a unique (and cheap!) gift.
Drawing and cartoons and illustrating… it’s just always been with me, and I have long felt really lucky that something so dear to me for so long is still an ongoing part of my life as an adult, husband, and dad.
So, you can hopefully understand that drawing with my kids someday was a very natural dream of mine from before I even had a reasonable expectation of being a dad any time soon. Once my first son was on the way, boxes and boxes of crayons and reams of paper were acquired for pre-natal art lessons, and I spent my fair share of time with him as an infant and young toddler lying on the floor coloring… usually while he ripped up papers or shoved crayons where they don’t belong. But we were doing it! I was going to draw with my kids, dang it! I was going to have kids who were drawing Batman and wowing our friends and doodling grand schematics of castles being invaded by ninjas!
Well, that hasn’t happened.
To be fair, my oldest son Tucker is only 4 years old. He’s not even in preschool yet. But I have to admit that there’s been a part of me that has been disappointed that he, well, just hasn’t really been all that interested in drawing. Sure, he colors or paints sometimes. We’ve had some fun getting messy or playing with different materials. But I just don’t see a spark in him over it, and I’ve been hesitant to push my own interests on him unless he’s actually interested. He’s been more interested in watching me draw, or having me draw something for him, than in learning how to draw something himself.
And then, this past week, we went out for lunch and, I found myself drawing away with crayons on the back of the kid’s coloring place-mat. I had jellyfish on the brain, something from my current children’s book project.
Tucker watched me, and after asking me to draw another one… and another one… he finally did something rare. He asked me how I learned to draw things. I said it took a lot of practice, and that the biggest thing I did to start was try drawing the things around me and copying other people’s drawings. Would he like to try copying mine, I asked? He would, he said.
And just like that, he starts drawing.
What he produced stunned me.
Not that this is some amazing masterpiece. Frankly, I don’t even know whether this is sub-par for a 4 year old. But it was the first time I had ever seen him draw something that actually looked like something. Something recognizable.
Is the kid going to suddenly love drawing? I doubt it. But I can’t deny how monumental the moment felt for me, seeing my little boy put crayon to paper and create something more than random squiggles and scribbles — that he was not only learning to replicate what he’s observing but also actually developing the motor-skills to make it happen.
I still can’t stop smiling about it.