The teacher handed me an envelope of Little Libra’s artwork and immediately after skimming through it I ask, “Are you sure these are hers? She has a classmate by the same name and these are too good.”
There. It’s on record. I doubted my daughter abilities. I don’t know if this is a categoric Bad Mom Moment, an offense I’ve committed and surrendered to numerous times. But I think it was more of my first Honest Mom Moment. I know my daughter. I know her strengths. She is amazing to me in ways that are not necessarily tangible—yet. She’s well adjusted, obedient, charming, not-so-bratty, curious, assertive, friendly and very very attached to me, latched even. And in terms of art, I consider it a work in progress.
“Actually Mam, in class they really follow Teacher,” she said glowing with pride.
Completely unconvinced but careful of not killing this young woman’s confidence (she deals with six Little Libras at one time in one hour, if not anything she deserves my respect), I answer with the most sincere yet ironic response I could think of, “Ah talaga?? Galeng mo naman!” (Wink, wink) I know you did 90% of this.
For a week now my daughter has been expressing her desire to “paint.” Her version of painting has been dotting the paper for 5 seconds and reluctant to see the paint go to waste, I end up using the rest of it. So if I don’t feel like painting, she doesn’t paint at all. But this morning was different. She was so bored (i.e. driving me up the wall) that I voluntarily brought out the painting materials.
I set up the Manila paper, the glue, the glitter, the paint, the water and the brushes. Then I noticed the envelope of artwork sitting on her bureau. I’ve been meaning to hang those up. So I did, delighting in the colors and details of each piece, admiring the creative use of paper plates, garbage bags, popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners. I remember thinking that this is like putting things together in a scrapbook. I should take a photo, print it and stick it into our family book of clippings and souvenirs. Our “archives” I like to call them.
Just when I was about to show her my artwork of her work, she shows me hers first:
I was astonished.
This is a breakthrough piece.
Let me qualify.
This was the first time I didn’t watch her or guide her. This was the first time she used all the materials without giving up in frustration or boredom. This was the first time, she didn’t ask for help or make a mess. In fact, this was the first time she cleaned up after herself. She did 150% of the work and it was no fluke.
I looked at the wall and all of a sudden the story behind her class artwork emerged: Look what I did without you, Mom (and Dad). I can do things on my own. My teacher taught me!
As far as I’m concerned, these are trophies of Little Libra’s social and emotional development, and oh yeah, her motor skills. She let someone else in or someone else made her way through. Probably both. Regardless, I’ve never appreciated a teacher’s efforts more. The breakthrough piece is the result of hours of instruction and repetition of which I am incapable. It was arrogant of me to doubt my daughter or her teacher, as if I was the only one who could teach her, as if I didn’t pay for a class in order for her to learn.
And so this post is a trophy of sorts, a plaque of appreciation, awarded to Teacher Nicki. Let me make right what I mistakenly said in fake sincerity: Teacher. Ang galeng mo naman talaga! Thank your for your invaluable contribution to our daughter’s development and for her first significant offering to our family archives.