This is a warning. If my daughter, Clio, asks you to help her with any sort of drawing / painting / other craft project, walk away. Don’t look back. Go. Don’t be taken in by her adorable button nose and big brown eyes, her impish smile or cute little helium voice and kooky diction. Seriously. Back the fuck away. You will thank me.
Why? Because if you agree to help her do something — say, draw a bird or make a circle or write “Clio’s bunny” under a picture of a bunny — you WILL NOT DO IT CORRECTLY. In fact, you will mess up in a major, terrible way. You will put it in the wrong place. You will make it the wrong size. It will not look like a bird. (Even though you warned her you really weren’t good at drawing birds.) Or, it will be facing the wrong way. She will insist that she told you to write “Clio’s silly bunny” when you know–you would bet your car on it– she never said the “silly” part.
And Clio will cry. And yell at you. And tell you you ruined her drawing. But it will be clear from her tone that what she actually means is that you ruined her life.
She will whimper at you to “erase it.” And if, by the grace of God, you were writing in pencil you’ll feel a surge of unbelievable relief and think, (or say), “I can fix this! I can fix this!” But no matter how well you erase there will still be some slight trace of what was there before. Not acceptable.
And if, on the other hand, you were using marker or crayon or glitter glue and you explain that you can’t erase it, you may still, actually, find yourself hunting down a pencil and trying to erase, just to prove that it’s not possible (while also, perhaps, vainly hoping that maybe, just maybe, it is…). And if you’re really really having a bad day, you’ll rip the paper while doing it.
You will have to start over. And you will fuck up again. And again, and again. You will never be good enough. Even your creative efforts to draw over the wrong-way-facing-bird so that it is, in fact, facing the other way, will be rebuffed, most likely. Because now you’ll have a big-ass bird and, oh yeah, WHERE IS ITS OTHER EYE? You forgot to draw its other eye!!!
You will explain that you can’t see the other eye, because it’s a profile view. You’ll have to demonstrate with your own face. (See? When you’re looking at my face from the side, you can only see one eye. No, I can see your other eye. OK, but only a tiny bit, right? Just the eyelashes. And birds’ heads are more….trust me. It’s there, you just can’t see it. Then draw it so you can see both eyes! But you told me to make the bird facing…No I didn’t!!!)
You will end up saying, “Listen, when you ask other people to help with art projects and drawings, they may not do things exactly the way you want. If you want your bird to look a certain way, you should try to draw it yourself.”
“But I don’t know how to draw a bird! You draw it! Please? And make it green. With a yellow eye. And make it flying, but looking at us, so you can see both eyes.”
(Heavy sigh) “Fine. Give me another piece of paper.”
“NO!!!!! THAT’S NOT A BIRD, THAT LOOKS LIKE A BAT!!”
“Fine! You know what? You draw the fucking bird. I’m done here.”
You won’t say that. But you will really, really want to.
Which is why, if Clio asks you to draw / paint / glue something, make up an excuse why you can’t. Carpal tunnel syndrome. A doctor appointment. A burning desire to watch Little Einsteins with her right now.
Or just walk away. Walk slowly, calmly away.