Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My daughter is three and a half years old, extremely smart and has an aptitude for music. She learns song lyrics and melodies quickly, and three different people with varied musical backgrounds have complimented her pitch. If someone plays her a melody, she can sing it.

She is not, however, very creative. This is something that has been clear since she was much younger. She is very literal and tends towards perfectionism. In the past she has avoided coloring or drawing because she "can't color like ____" or "can't draw as good as Daddy".

I tend to be hard on myself and my parenting about this. Have Eric and I, both type A people, nurtured our first born into a perfectionistic, type A three year old? I don't think so. Since it was obvious early on how hard she can be on ourselves, Eric and I both try to stress the importance of trying, not giving up, and just doing the best we can. I don't think we're completely "without fault", I'm sure she sees that I am hard on myself and absorbs that too. But I do not insist on perfection.

One of the more obvious examples of L's tendencies is that though she colors and paints, she greatly prefers stickers, play-doh and other crafts. She has started coloring and painting more lately, but often when she colors she actually spends the time trying to write letters and numbers or tracing her hands and feet.

Another example was our experience with potty training. L potty trained quickly, just after her second birthday. She was probably physically ready prior to that time, but resisted. Once we switched to panties, when she became interested and asked to try them, she was extremely hard on herself about accidents. She didn't want panties because she didn't want to have an accident. She was afraid to try panties for naps (6 or so months later) because she was scared she would have an accident in her bed. She actually had very few accidents after her second or third day in panties, in part because we had a period of time where she basically willed herself not to go to the bathroom at all because she was scared of having an accident.

I have often thought about this aspect of L's personality. Do I read too much into this? After all, she is clearly musical (though, despite her love for melodies and singing, she does not particularly enjoy dancing), and music is an art, so she can't be entirely without artistic "brain-i-ness", right?

Today her teacher talked to me after class about a fun play time the kids had. It was "Game Day" and one of the fun activities they did was free play with helium balloons. The teacher told me that she noticed L holding her balloon and standing off to the side, looking withdrawn, as the other kids threw their balloons, hit and kicked them, ran around the room after them, etc. When the teacher asked her how she was doing, L's serious reply was, "I don't know how to do this."

At first, I laughed because L has always loved balloons -- our weekly grocery shopping trip was frequently filled with shouts of glee seeing the character balloons hanging above the checkout, and one year for her birthday she got multiple balloons because friends and family knew how much she liked them. We have even played the "throw it in the air and chase it" game with balloons and balls at home. But, with a moments thought, it made me wonder if it was the lack of "rules" or directions. If you give her a balloon and tell her to use it, she gets stumped.

Lack of creativity? Fear of "doing it wrong"?

Her brother, on the other hand, is definitely a "give him a toy and he'll spend all day figuring out different things to do with it" kid. They are very dissimilar in that way. He's constantly turning over toys to explore them from the opposite view, using a bucket as a hat or chair, using a chair as a slide, driving the upside down plastic shopping cart like it is a car.

It is interesting to see these kinds of traits in the kids. And easy for me to worry about them. Should I be doing something to encourage L to be more creative? Should I be pushing her outside her comfort zone more so that she isn't as afraid to "do it wrong"? It will be interesting to see, as she grows up, how we see her personality develop and these characteristics play themselves out in her.


  1. It's very interesting to ready your thoughts! She reminds me of some others in our family. :) I would contemplate like this, too, I'm sure! You're great parents!