Art Classes and Shining Boys

Prasad had his first ceramics class last evening at the local Arts Center. It’s for 3rd and 4th graders. I’m thinking we should have been having him attend more classes all along. After all, it’s an amazing resource in town (just 7 minutes away by car), an incredible facility, and a perfect place for him to finally feel valued and special. He’s attending Wednesdays from 4:00-5:30pm. After school yesterday, he kept asking when he was leaving for “art class” and he was beaming about the idea. The class sizes are always small (a maximum of 12), so that’s perfect for Prasad.

Sky has been playing soccer two seasons a year since kindergarten. He’s also recently joined Cub Scouts, so we thought it was high time to get Prasad involved in something. He’s an excellent runner, but of course that’s something he won’t be able to truly shine in until his middle school years. He’s EXTREMELY creative and expressive, so art classes seemed like the most obvious choice.

Yesterday, when Prasad mentioned to Sky that he was starting art classes, Sky’s shoulders dropped and he sulked. He was depressed about it. This dynamic of jealousy between them fascinates me. It’s probably normal between siblings, but it disturbs me in some ways. I mean, Sky of all people knows he would be very bored in a ceramics class, however I could sense that he felt left out because he doesn’t get to take art classes. He pouted a while, and then refused to discuss the class with Prasad at all. Instead, he kept showing off his Cub Scout book, and discussing his upcoming soccer tournament. He does that as a means to remind Prasad that he is still very important, despite his new art classes. Prasad was feeling great, and nothing could sour him. He felt valued and understood as a creative child, and for some reason that really bothered Sky.There is a dynamic between them that says “If he feels good about himself, then I can’t feel good about myself. If he’s good, then I’m bad, and if he’s happy, then I’m depressed.” One of them almost always has to be down, and one up. Why, oh why is that?! Why can’t they both be having great days, and both be feeling great at the same time? I’m hoping they outgrow the strangeness…. soon.

In my heart, even when Sky felt badly, I was smiling. Smiling at the sight of Prasad feeling important and talented. It’s a rare sight, and something I want to make sure he continues to feel. He has a brother who is very, very skilled in many areas– math, reading, sports conversational and social skills. That is always difficult for Prasad, living in his brother’s shadow, so to speak. Art is something Prasad shines in. He has an expressive courage that I don’t see in most children, or adults for that matter. He has unusual perspectives and ideas that don’t always fit into the status quo of his peers, but at the arts center they are highly valued by the teachers. As a creative myself, I understand just how important it is to be surrounded by other creative minds. To be heard and understood is a deep need for artists.

Today I’m feeling enormous gratitude for our community… the Lawrence Arts Center is just a small part of it. The diversity and overall appreciation of the ‘unusual’ in this town is something I miss every time I travel elsewhere. I am so deeply grateful we live here, both for myself and my quirky assortment of kids. Mostly, I’m still smiling for my little creative one… he’s going to learn so much about the arts, and most importantly about himself.

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