There are pictures of hearts all over my house, delightful spontaneous outpourings from the girls’ arts explorations. Lopsided heart shapes, scraggly letters staggering along proclaiming love — each one is priceless.
Plenty of them — sigh of relief — are addressed to Mom, but really, if I look at the scraps of paper, cardboard, stones and giftwrap I’ve grabbed and saved over the years, there is something deeper going on. Just like I have storage boxes filled with their early scribbles and mutant-head-with-stick-body drawings, there are now stacks of heart drawings from both girls. As if this was the next developmental stage of visual self-expression.
For the last few years, I hadn’t really thought about their developmental growth in terms of visual arts. Once it was clear in the early grades that their brains and hands were working together well, I stopped thinking about what might come next.
But I’m noticing it now because we are firmly entrenched in a new stage — faces. Proper, serious attempts to draw realistic faces, fretting over the details of eyes and how to draw a nose (followed by vampire teeth and elf ears). They’ve both been doing landscapes for a while, but that has been part of their school work. Trees, horses and bird nests may or may not have come straight out of their heads and hearts. These faces are different. No one has asked them to do it. It’s just when pencil and paper are handy, that’s what they turn their minds to.
Their friends are doing the same, and all the drawings look similar, as if for this age bracket, faces are what their brains need to do next. And most of the faces look the same – big eyes, glamorized lips, more doll-like than human.
I’m glad I saved all the hearts so I can have them to remember their first tangible expressions of love. Personally, I’d be just fine if we all hovered in that stage forever. But I’m jazzed to see what comes next. The refrigerator and the storage boxes are ready and waiting.