We’ve all been there: standing in the kitchen with our delightful, sweet child, being handed a piece of artwork from school that day. “Here you go, mommy”, he’ll say to you stretching out his chubby, short 7-year old arms. And then just like that, you look down at the drawing and it’s really, really, like—I cannot emphasize this enough—really bad. Of course, what are you supposed to say? I mean, granted, you knew statistically it was a low chance that you’d be raising the next Vincent Van Gogh, but, on the flip side of that, you’ve seen four-year-olds with compositionally more intricate macaroni art. But one thing is becoming apparent: this is going to be a tough one to weasel your way out of hanging on the fridge.
The first thing you’ll want to do is remain calm. Try reminding yourself that he might just be more of a sports kid. Right? Ignore the fact that he drew a hand with 14 fingers and spelled his own name wrong on the top left corner while you remind yourself that plenty of people end up at a community college down the line. Your second-grader’s sheer inability to draw within the lines, quite literally, could be an asset. Maybe he’s an unconventional genius? Like Steve Jobs or that guy who started a sex cult in Oregon.
Pretend not to notice that he also spelled his last name wrong while praising him on his work with phrases like “good effort” and “great colors” or questions like “did you mix this up with one of your classmate’s drawings, sweetie?” and “are you sure? Not even Mark who still eats glue? This isn’t his?”
When yoga breathing is no longer working, send your child off to his room with a full set of the most expensive oil paints money can buy to “try again.” Now you get to work! Put together a 63-slide presentation on the greatest American artists throughout history to educate your kid. Encourage your son to follow these artists’ choices and casually let him know that you’re pretty sure Monet would’ve never made a handprint turkey quite so “derivative” or “simplistic.” If your child gets mad at you for your critiques, remind him that you were an Art History major and literally got a degree in knowing what good art looks like. Sick burn, Mom.
Now that you’ve sufficiently tortured your sweet angel for the past hour over a subject that literally isn’t even graded at school, sit down at the family dinner table and make him watch as you make your own macaroni artwork. The only way you’ll be able to prove how truly easy it is is to do it yourself. After you’ve finished, hang your own art on the fridge, later telling your husband, Dave, that it’s good for your son to have something to aspire to. Get into a whole big fight with Dave about “reasonable parenting expectations” and then lock yourself in the bedroom to watch Bob Ross painting videos for the rest of the night and calm down.
Eventually, once everyone in the house has gone to sleep, return to the kitchen to find your child’s art. As you pick it up and make a remorseful bee-line for the trashcan, noticing the spelling of the name on it one more time. Immediately feel a flood of joy as you realize:
It was Mark-who-still-eats-glue’s drawing. What a relief.