The other day, my eldest, Maya, asked me what I would do all day every day if I had to pick one thing. It was a tough question. I was hard put to answer. I finally settled on writing, but did point out that as there are many things I enjoy I'd rather do a few of them. She replied, that for her, if it really had to be just one thing then it would be pony. All day, every day, she would want to ride and be with ponies.
We do not own horses and so her reality is two full afternoons a week at a wonderful pony club where she gets to ride and care for the ponies. Luckily there are other things she really enjoys doing and she did quickly move on to talk about one of them. "Oh and drawing," she said, "I'd want to draw". She is a talented artist and spends a portion of each day drawing. She also makes things, does origami and collages, sews and knits.
If she were in school she wouldn't have a lot of time for these activities and I think that would be sad because these are the things that make her her. They are the things that make her happy and even more, they are the way she makes sense of her world as anyone who's ever flipped through a few pages of one of her many journals could tell you. In fact when we stopped and thought about it, both my husband and I felt we couldn't imagine Maya without her drawing.
From time to time I worry about whether she's spending her time doing the 'right' things. I hesitate, wonder if I shouldn't be trying to teach her something else, to get her to spend less time doing what she enjoys and more time doing something more 'serious'. And in the weeks running up to our annual Local Education Authority home visit, I can even be known to panic for a moment thinking - how on earth will I justify this to the inspector? I've practically nothing but drawings to show for the year!
And then, I start looking at the drawings. And it's like taking a walk back through everything we've done over the past twelve months. I get lost in how far she's journeyed with her art and her personal and unique education since the last time I took stock and I think, honestly, if she only did this - and of course she does not - how could I be anything less than amazingly proud of her talent and commitment to her art not to mention inspired by her creativity.
When we let our children do what they love, however hard that might be sometimes when we compare it to what we did in school or what our neighbour's kids are doing, they blossom, they flourish and they grow.