As a child, I could spend hours drawing. My mom furnished me with lots of butcher paper and later, these wonderful hardback sketchpads that I haven't seen in art stores in years, and I would create characters, elaborate ballgowns, scenes from dreams. The art supply store was more exciting than any toy store, and I basked in the elementary schoolyard fame that came from being "a really good drawer."
I assumed that any children I had would share my early fondness for putting pencil to paper and creating something - or nothing. And, of course, because I assumed, I found myself proven wrong almost immediately. As soon as Westley understood "drawing," he developed his own definition of the activity. Westley's idea of "drawing" (and also of "coloring") is the two of us sitting together while he tells me what to draw. When I suggest that he draw Wall-E or Shrek, he says he can't.
I tell him, "You definitely can't if you don't try" - the kind of thing I swore I'd never say to my child because I detest it so - but he continues to insist that he can't. I get frustrated, he gets frustrated. And so not much drawing goes on in our house.
Photography is a different story, however.
On Mother's Day, I got out my camera and, as always, Westley wanted to see it. And, as always, I was hesitant to let him touch it. He broke our first digital point-and-shoot a little over a year ago when I foolishly let him play with it unsupervised. In just a few minutes it had been rendered "unfixable" (which I felt especially awful about, as the camera had originally been my wedding gift to Rob). Of course, taking pictures is super-fun - especially with the instant gratification of digital photography - so I decided that rather than hand off the camera and hope for the best, I'd teach him how to use it.
He picked it up remarkably quickly, handling the camera like he'd been doing it for years.
Unlike with drawing, which frustrates Westley immediately when things don't go just so, taking pictures always pleases him. He doesn't care if the image is cropped oddly, or the subject is out-of-focus. He flips the camera over to "view" mode and proudly displays his prize: "Look at this beautiful picture, Mommy!"
I'm surprised by just how beautiful they are.
I know he's just goofing around with this fancy, grown-up toy (that happens to look more like a gun than anything else I'll bring into the house). But even if his images are accidental, I can't help but feel that I'm looking at something incredibly pure and personal when I scroll through Westley's pictures.
I feel like I'm looking at the world through a little sliver of his soul.