August 22, 2007 14 Comments
My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
—Clarence Budinton Kelland
One of our more recent trips as, as a family, was to one of the Orlando Florida theme parks.
We usually are very careful of what we spend our money on. We try to stick to the essentials. Churros, soda products, smoothie bars, candy, stupid hats that will never be used again, adult beverages, figurines, stuffed animals, ponchos, fake tattoos, and dip-n-dots. (This list is not all inclusive, but is an excellent indication that even a Floridian can fall victim to the tourist traps we have set for you Northerners).
One thing that my wife and I learned a long time ago is that there is not an artist in the Continental United States that is talented enough to capture our image in the form of a caricature. There have been many-a-men to try; but non up to the challenge. We learned this so early in our relationship that we have saved millions of dollars in failed attempts while protecting the confidence of artists across our great divide.
Then we met a man.
I did not know this man. We will call him “Artist X”. He was confident and cunning at his craft. He was proud and boastful. He even bellowed like one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men when I approached him with a challenge…
“You there… Artist X! You will draw my family to the best of you ability and we will let the crowd decide if its quality is acceptable. If the sketch is of fine caliber, I will not only purchase these drawings from you; but I will upgrade them to FULL COLOR and give you a handsome gratuity, a mutton chop, and a flagon of stout ale. However, if you fail, you must cast your conte crayon into the meticulously trimmed foliage behind us where you are sure never to find it again!”
He was victorious!
An hour later I paid for the upgrade and the tip and we went on my merry way. The pictures you see here have been on a wall, in my home, for a while, but it was only recently that they got me to thinking.
You see, a caricature artist has eyes very similar to that of children. They focus on your most obvious attributes and exaggerate them. They make some parts of you larger than life, but other parts smaller that normal. They focus on the same things that we see and do every day, even though we are not paying attention to what we look like at the time. They bring out the obvious in a way that is so simple that it seems genius.
I think about my children.
They see me carry stuff and think that I am the strongest man in the world. They hear me tell a joke and think that I should be in movies. They see me come to their rescue when they are in need and think that I am a superhero. They think I know all of the answers to everything because I helped them through some math homework or a science project. They think I am rich because I hook them up at Christmas time. They take something small and make it huge in their minds.
Now think about the flip side.
What if my children saw me do something bad? Don’t you think their impressionable minds would continue to work the same way? If they saw me steal something would they think I was a hardened criminal? If they heard me lie would they think that I was incapable of telling the truth, EVER? If they saw me yell or strike their mother would they think that I was an uncontrollable beast? Would they fear I would do these things to them?
If your children drew a caricature of you, what would it look like?
How big would they draw your nose, ears, or mouth; and how huge would they draw your ego, pride, hostility, dishonesty, or unethical behavior? How tiny would they draw your feet, eyes, or chin; and how small would they draw your self control, compassion, or understanding?
You see, everything is amplified 723 zillion times to a child. It is so important that we remember that our little artists are watching us to help them paint a picture that will prepare the canvas of their own lives. What are we showing them? What are they making of it? WHAT ARE WE DOING ABOUT IT?
If you’re a Dad, you need to put yourself in the smock of Artist X for a moment.
I dare you to try to paint a good rendering of your family life for your kids. If you do, you will be rewarded handsomely now and forever. If you don’t you could be ruining a lot more that your own masterpiece. Most of the time, it is more difficult to do the right things than it is to do the wrong when it comes to setting an example for your kids to follow. Some of you may not like the sound of that too much; there is too much responsibility…too much work…
…well you should have thought about that before you whipped out your crayon.