drawing conclusions

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).

me and fanOne 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.

the boy and girlI 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.

Artist XI 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.



14 Responses to drawing conclusions

  1. mike says:

    great blog bro!

  2. karen says:

    Nice analogy Charlie! There are a lot of parents in the world too willing to avoid the harder parts of parenting, preferring to be a “friend” to their kids instead of a parent. Those are the folks who should have kept their crayons in the box.

  3. Hawk says:

    Great insight! As karen so succinctly stated above, too many parents make it their job to be a “friend.” We are their parents; charged with the stewardship of teaching them properly and with making those difficult parenting decisions. I would like to back-up for a moment to the word “job” as a term most people refer to parenting. Parenting is not a job (Jackass Of the Boss). It is rewarding blessing granted by our creator. Charged with the noble task of molding and developing our children to be responsible adults. We can become friends when the have left the nest. Most people suck at their jobs anyway, so why would one want to think of the greatest responsibility you will ever have as a “job!”

    Speaking of crayons – I color and paint with my two young ones at least twice a week. We gather the bin of crayolas and we each draw pictures of different things, but the one thing we do special is to draw each other as to how we see the behaviour. It’s kinda interesting when your 8 year-old, draws you with a big mouth!!! Often times, the students become the teacher, and the teacher becomes the student! I have learned much from my children!

    Great post and thanks for sharing.

  4. RubyShooZ says:

    I’m a bit speechless and daunted at the thoughts of how my children would have painted me in the days of yore. I’ve changed so much I can hardly recognize myself.

    Hopefully we continue evolving as we make mistakes and learn from them and therefore grow in the process.

    Thanks for a very thoughtful post.

    Peace, love and understanding.

  5. Hawk says:

    Charlie san:

    I came back to say how much I have enjoyed our chance encounter. Your blog is very inspiring to this rogue and I wanted to convey my sincerest appreciation for the effort you make, the insight you share, and your ability to convey in a one dimensional format, interesting lessons in everyday life.

    Writing has not been one of those thangs that come natural for me. I should say, sharing anything has never come easy for me until recently. You have inspired me to share more and I thank you!

    Blessings to you and the family.



  6. Alasdair says:

    Good post charlie … recently our lad has started drawing pictures of his mum and I with BIG hearts and HUGE smiles, I’m hoping that that’s a good sign ;)

    “…well you should have thought about that before you whipped out your crayon.” – very witty LOL

  7. Mom says:

    You amaze me with your writings.

  8. Charlie says:

    Hey everyone…that was my Mom…everyone say “Hi Mom”.

    I love you Mom! I love you for teaching me how to love! (and because I love chicken cutlets)

  9. Alasdair says:


  10. Jayleigh says:

    Thanks for sharing the caricatures. I love those things! And they always take more time and are more expensive than you ever think they’re going to be!

    Good challenge. You always make me think.

  11. Charlie says:

    Jay: As Sherriff Beuford T Justice would say…”Well thank you nice lady”

  12. raincoaster says:

    Excellent! Nobody loves a good conte crayon metaphor like I do!

  13. Kev says:

    Chicken cutlets are Great!

  14. Mom says:

    Chicken cutlets for everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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