Children’s Paintings Are Always Perfect

Before I share with you a very disturbing story that will make you feel far more superior as a parent, I want to explain something to you. I am a type A personality. I like lists, being in control, and doing things the right way. See, right there, I’ve just demonstrated a very type A thing to say. Doing things the right way. To a type A personality, there is a wrong way and a right way, and the right way is always dependent on what the type A deems appropriate. It’s all very confusing, so we’ll just move on. Anyways, like most type A personalities, I’m ambitious and competitive. Now, that should not imply that I succeed at either of those things, it just means that I try really hard and I like to win. That does not mean that I win or that my efforts succeed. I can give plenty of examples of me trying and failing. Plenty!

So naturally, when I became a first-time parent my natural tendencies to control and get things right took over full force. I was very concerned about milestones. I can now only look back and laugh as I remember looking up the weekly milestones put out by Baby Center and making sure my son was right on target. At five months when my son had only rolled over one time, I became very concerned. I was determined to get him to roll over and so I did what any normal parent would do, I began rolling over in front of him. What? You didn’t do that! I’m not surprised. It was an insane thing to do, but that is where my type A personality kicks in which sometimes leads me to desperate measures. Needless to say, that didn’t work and he went on to develop perfectly normal.

Now, let’s get to my very disturbing story. My son started preschool last year. Two months into the school year the parents were invited to a parent/teacher night where we would learn more about what our kids had been learning. My husband and I sat in the front row and I was very eager to hear what they had all been doing these last few months at school. But as the teacher began to talk, I got distracted by the wall of painted pictures behind her. They were pumpkin patch paintings. Some were really, really good. I’m talking Rembrandts. And some were blobs of orange and green, and let’s face it if they hadn’t been with all the others no one would have known what they were supposed to be.


[bctt tweet=”As I sat looking at these paintings, I had a sinking feeling one of the blobs was his. #momlife” username=”messy2shoes”]

As I sat looking at these paintings, I began wondering which one was my sons. And I had a sinking feeling that one of the blobs was his. I mean it looked exactly like all the paintings he had done at home. And I know it doesn’t matter. I know. But….I really wanted it to be one of the Rembrandts. And I began preparing myself. I was telling myself,

“Hey, you know it doesn’t matter. It’s okay. It doesn’t mean anything.” Then I began pleading…with God…with myself…I’m not sure really! But I began begging, “If it could just be that one that kinda looks like a patch or is somewhat of an attempt of a pumpkin patch, I’ll be okay. But please, please don’t let it be that one or that one.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. How horrible! How could I even think that or admit to that, I know!! I’m not proud of it, believe me. But, it’s the truth. I’m flawed. I’m not perfect and sometimes I wish horrible, selfish things, like please let my child’s painting be the Rembrandt.

[bctt tweet=”Please let my child’s painting be the Rembrandt. #momlife” username=”messy2shoes”]
Why? I don’t know! That’s probably the most disturbing part. Maybe I wanted him to put forth more effort? Maybe I wanted him to take preschool art class more seriously? Maybe I was reflecting my own desire for perfection onto an innocent child’s painting? I’m sure the answer lies in there somewhere and it’s not pretty.
But I had prepared myself for the inevitable and I really did know that it was okay and that it wasn’t a mark on my child’s abilities or intelligence. That it was just a beautiful painting that his little hands had done. And that I would be proud of it no matter which one was his. So when the teacher was done talking, I approached the wall to look for my son’s drawing. And the teacher, seeing me looking, pointed his out.

And to my astonishment….his was the Rembrandt. And I couldn’t believe it.

It never even occurred to me that his would be that one. It was magnificent. And certainly not like any of the drawings he had ever done at home. I looked over to another mom who was eyeing the blobs and she said I bet one of those is my sons. We both laughed as I told her I had thought the same thing. And maybe it was the look in her eye or the sigh that followed her response, but I knew that I wasn’t alone in thinking ridiculous, horrible things about childrens’ paintings and wanting it to just not be that one.

Parents aren’t perfect even if child paintings always are.


Sherry White
Sherry White is a wife and mother of two who can be found throwing Doritos and cookies at her kids as she squeezes in time to write at her blog The Messy Christian. Follow her @messy2shoes on Facebook and on Twitter.