I teach a lot of kids how to draw. I am grateful that I am often a part of their extended local “family”. My adult clients often invite me to dinner; my kid clients often suggest I come over on the weekend to watch a little Scooby Doo with them! I see these kids grow inches over the month, and marvel at these small people that are being lovingly formed within each family. I love teaching people how to draw, and I also get a lot of enjoyment out of watching my littlest students grow into adulthood.
I also get to do interesting things, like be on a clients’ committee for their Girl Scout Silver Award. Phoebe is one of my long term clients, I’ve been working with her for so many years I’d have to check my tax records to remember how long it has been- at least four years, but maybe more? We’ve bonded over our love of animal conservation, as Phoebe came to me originally as a wee sprite wanting to learn to draw because she wanted to be a “biologist in the field” when she grows up. We started talking about my love of the great primates, and my volunteer work with a primate organization, and I’ve encouraged her pursuit of this science ever since. Phoebe recently completed her Girl Scout Silver Award by creating this patch for the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary that will teach kids ages 5 and up about animal conservation. She devised a fun activity that you can complete when you visit to the Austin Zoo, even if you aren’t a Girl Scout. I’ve introduced her to animal rescue organization founders, and other teen role models who are animal rights activists over the years. It has been really fun to see her knowledge base expand, and I’m really proud of her accomplishment and accolades on the Austin Zoo website! And of course, she and I still draw animals, four plus years into our drawing lessons, like this Siberian tiger.
So I’m going to put this out here on the internet, where it will live for all eternity. One small reason you want me to teach your kids how to draw is that I will meet with them once a week and build a relationship of trust with them as their confidante and advisor. I can be a person in their life who is not their Mom and not grading them, who will tell them things like “If you get those huge ear hole plug thingies when you’re in high school, a bird might fly by and get stuck in your ear hole. I don’t recommend that fashion choice! And this could happen to you later. Ewwww!”.
I can’t repeat many of the things my preteen clients tell me here, because I honor their trust in me and their privacy. I can repeat these two gems: “I want to be a strong girl so I can wreck the boys heads off when they want to marry me because that is yucky”- Emma, age 7 AND “I upset 3 girls in my class by accidentally running through something they were building at recess. Now they are going to torture me, because you know girls never forgive anybody, even for accidents.” – Luc, age 10.
I hear their stories, some small and nonchalant, some big and noteworthy … I often hear about the first boyfriends, kooky things their friends are doing and statements that only a confidante will hear. I consider myself both a kid and parent ally. If there is something a child tells me that I think the parent needs to know, I’ll make sure they discreetly know. If there is something the kids need to hear, and I can tell they aren’t listening to it when a parent or teacher says it – I’ll say it, too. Like don’t get those gross ear hole stretcher thingies. You’ll regret it later. For serious.