Monday, February 13, 2012

Learning To Frame

K and his wife M were in town this past weekend and when they called to say hello, we invited them over for dinner. K and DB went to school together and were meeting after twenty years. The couple has led a very interesting life and I was looking forward to meeting them.We chatted over chai and snacks and then DB did the obligatory tour of the house. He was really looking forward to showing them some of J's artwork that we have framed and hung on the walls of the office. 
He is incredibly proud of the child's artistic abilities and at times acts like an over-indulgent dad of the worst kind. That evening he was having one of his moments. J enjoys the adulation and I am happy for her - I do believe at least one parent must openly demonstrate pride in their child. It is then okay for the other to be a little reticent and keep things in balance. So while DB pulls the stops on occasion, I make it a point never to do so. 
K indulged us and gushed over how nice the pictures were. DB was all smiles and J looked quite pleased with herself. When the three of them left the room to go upstairs, M pulled me aside to let me know that I should never buy new picture frames on the cheap pointing to one example in the hallway. She exhorted me to check out flea markets for better frames I could buy for the same price and definitely mat every picture before framing. It makes all the difference. She had nothing to say about the artwork at all.
I have to admit I was more than a little taken aback.This is the first time I am meeting this person and  had not asked for an opinion on the aesthetics of my picture frames relative to their price point.A child had drawn these pictures between ages seven and nine and we put it up on our walls because we thought she had done a really fine job for her age. It is our way of encouraging her. I did not have the heart to tell M that every picture does not benefit from a mat and when it comes to artistic sensibility our mileage may vary.
Every room she stepped into she had some advice for me on how to improve it without breaking the bank.The conversations with M left me pondering about how we receive advice and information in our lives. She had a lot of both to share and if I could get over feeling hurt by her not noticing J's efforts, I may have learned several things. Maybe because I never allow myself the freedom to indulge J as lavishly as DB does, I am quicker to hurt over perceived slights. If I could reign my emotions in better, I may learn a lot more from the world around me. As a test, I plan to learn the art of matting from M.


ggop said...

When will guests be gracious? The very least she could say something about how you can encourage her talent.

My sister is in marketing and merchandising in India and this sort of advice is a pet peeve of hers - why rain on someone's parade even if they paid more for something and you feel you could get a "better" deal?

Hope said...

While it's important to keep a balance between the two of you, in praising J, I also personally feel that it is important to let your child know that you never underestimate her. I had a mom who never indulged me in such praises and I remember craving for them as much. While my dad always praised and celebrated my small achievements, my mom always mentioned how I could have done better.
In the long run, may be, it did good to me but truly speaking, I miss the closeness with her now. I feel I was never good enough for her.
So, as a mother, I feel while it's important to keep ur child level-headed, it's also important to keep telling her that she's very good in her own way. The love factor must always be of prime importance. Do think about it.