Saturday, October 20, 2012

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Have you ever experienced a proud mommy moment that instead turned into disappointment? And that disappointment was all the more deep because of the pride you had mistakently felt just a moment before? Well, let me walk you through just such a moment in our lives.

Last weekend, we attended an exhibit about animation at a local art museum. Clara got to make an animated robot and participate in a stop-motion video. (She is the first one in line in the video, and her robot is the last robot that flies off the top of the screen.)The big event of the day was that the museum had invited one of the lead animators from Blue Sky to present a workshop about drawing. 

Many of the people in the audience were adults or older children. As one of the youngest children in the audience, I was proud of Clara as she sat with her lap-size easel and sketched the characters along with the animator. She seemed so confident and comfortable, in fact, that I decided to walk around the rest of the exhibit while she continued to draw under the watchful gaze of her father.

Here are some of Clara's sketches of "Scrat" from the Ice Age movies.
When I returned to where Clara was sitting, I was surprised to see her eagerly raising her hand to ask a question. Other older children had been asking questions, but she was definitely the smallest person trying to ask a question, so small in fact, that the animator couldn't see her extended hand above the heads of the people in front of her.

"What question are you going to ask?," I inquired eagerly.  (Clara is often shy in front of people she doesn't know well, and I was overjoyed to see that she was stepping outside of her comfort zone to ask a question in front of so many strangers.)

"No, Mama... the question is not for you... it's for him," Clara replied pointedly.

"Uh- OK," I thought. I wanted to encourage her to speak out more in general, and so I urged her to stand up and raise her hand high so that the animator would see her.

The animator finally called upon her. 

Clara got nervous, and she paused for so long that I thought she wasn't going to ask her question after all.

"Go ahead, Clara- what's your question?" I inquired. (Sometimes when she does speak in a situation where she is nervous she is so quiet that she can't be heard.) I urged her to ask her question loud and clear.

Finally, she spoke- loudly and clearly...


The audience laughed. The animator took her question in stride and said that Clara's question was just the type of line they look for in animation- something that will get the crowd laughing. I turned fifteen shades of red and sunk, embarassed, onto the floor, holding Clara next to me.

After the presentation, my husband laughed and laughed... at me. For him, the funniest part of this event was not Clara's question itself but the eagerness with which I encouraged her to ask the question followed by the look on my face once she did indeed ask the question. 

When we asked Clara later on why she asked that question, she explained that she had initially thought of another question, but when put on the spot, she got nervous, and asked the first thing that came to mind. Her question made sense given that Clara often wonders about why something is taking a long time, and so it's a default question that she can easily recall.

 I will continue to encourage Clara to stand up and speak out and ask questions... but next time, I will be sure to have her tell me what exact question she is thinking about before encouraging her so eagerly to speak out!


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