As parents of preschoolers we were told to make the most of those "teachable moments" that happen throughout the course of a day. The butterfly dies. Your best friend disses you.
My littlest dude recently endured months of teachable moments while working as illustrator of my latest children's book. It was like a lifetime of annoying-parent lessons in a six-month period. Of all the horrible bosses you've had, I'm certain none could be as bad as your mom.
When I was starting to work on my latest children's book, it might have been an easier choice to hire a professional artist —- someone accustomed to deadlines and constructive criticism and annoying bosses.
But then I would have missed the opportunity to annoy the heck out of my poor 12-year-old son, who is now the youngest published illustrator living in my house. More importantly, I would have missed the chance to teach him a few life lessons about the payoffs of hard work and responsibility and patience.
Even something you enjoy can be made unenjoyable when your boss-mom is nagging you. Of course he would have preferred to play Minecraft until I call him for dinner, but he had to spend at least an hour each day drawing.
Although your job may fit into the creative category (like mine) sometimes you have to do things you'd rather not do. I've had to write about topics I find boring, and now he's had to draw pictures in a way he'd rather not. But that's life as a creative person.
He also learned that his actions (or lack thereof) can affect others (the book designer, the printer's schedule, scheduled school visits, book sales.) The book was scheduled to be released in March, with plenty of time for school author visits before the end of the school year. Instead, all 2,500 copies arrived in my garage on the last day of school. (Note to PTO volunteers and school librarians: Please put us to work come September.)
A young friend of his got her first voice-over gig recording a spot for a children's museum. But what seemed so exciting (being able to hear your voice on the radio) and cool (getting paid!) the longer-than-expected recording session wasn't what she'd expected. "I'm a kid," she says. "How many different ways can I say it?"
Despite the moments of frustration he endured (wanting to quit, saying he couldn't do it, working under pressure) I believe it's paid off for him.
He expected the adults in his life to be impressed by his accomplishment. We're like that, we parents. We toss out kudos like lollipops when kids do something great. But he didn't expect so much admiration from kids younger than him. During the school visits we squeezed in before the end of the school year, he was a rock star. With my first book I'd get a few questions from students about what it's like to be a writer, but now I have to set aside 10 minutes for all of his fans to get a chance to talk to their newest favorite artist.
As a sixth grader, he quickly learned the value of following through and not quitting. And as of last week, he also learned that while autographing a book or two is pretty cool, signing 127 a day is not. At least his teachers will be happy that he's learned how to write in cursive (all 12 letters of his name.)
Sometimes I had to remind myself that the larger picture of this project was more about my little guy than about the book itself. Because of my nagging, this rising new artist learned more about life and responsibility and less about how cool it is to see your name in print.
"Roxy and Her Annoying Little Brother, Stuey," was released last week. A portion of the sales of the children's book will go directly to the dog rescuers who saved Pelham's two little brown dogs, who live with her in Farmington. To order a book or to schedule a school visit, please go to www.roxysforeverhome.com.Copyright © 2015, CT Now