Let me tell you a short, but true, story.
When I was in the third grade, they had the third grade talent show at the elementary school in my native Delaware. I was overjoyed. I wanted to share with the school my talents. I was a kid who wanted to follow their passion.
Me: “I want to draw.”
Somebody in so-called authority: “You can’t draw in the talent show.”
Me (All warbly-voiced): “But, that’s my talent…”
Needless to say, I was devastated. Here I am, about eight-years-old with few peers in my ability to draw and they tell me that these other talents are more valid than mine. I’ll never forgot that moment because it hurt that little kid’s little feelings.
I realize in hindsight that my parents were awesome in watering the dope side of me, the part that the oppressive forces in traditional public school tried to suppress. A part of me is kidding, but the other part is serious, particularly in these times. Later in my life, my mother relayed to me how she made a very concerted effort to let me read comic books. For me, comics were the perfect medium for me to learn, escape, and later provided the groundwork for what I would morph into professionally. I loved to draw. I loved to write. I loved to read. And my creative mind was ridiculous. In an exclusive interview with me, my mom said, “When you first started [reading comic books], I wasn’t sure if there were going to be of any benefits to you reading. And then I talked to your teacher and she said, ‘If he’s reading, by all means, let him read!’.” Oh, the irony runs deeper.
Both of my parents were educators (Rest In Peace, Dad) and they had access (wink, wink) to a seemingly endless supply of drawing paper and art materials, so from that aspect, I wanted for nothing. But my mom could, and considered, shutting that key comic part down. “I didn’t know if you were picking up any negative stuff from reading them,” she went on to tell me, “and then when I looked at the vocabulary (in the comics), it was very sophisticated.” I was capable, but I didn’t want to draw fine art. I loved pop art.
By the time Hip-Hop emerged as my chief passion, we didn’t have any real issues. They enabled me to be successful by trusting my desires. I knew what I wanted. I did me.
DON’T KILL YOUR KID’S DOPE SIDE!
I recently had a lengthy conversation with a friend who was close to the late, great Dr. Donda West, Kanye’s mother. My friend explained that it “pained her (Dr. Donda West)” that ‘Ye wanted to do Hip-Hop exclusively – not traditional school. Nevertheless, Dr. West rolled with it, because she listened to her son. Applaud her! He had that confidence in himself and knew his path. And what a path he’s blazed. Now that Kanye is a father, watch out for North West!
I know my kid is dope and I’m not about to murder that side of her in the interest of being “safe,” “realistic” or “practical.”
My daughter now proclaims “I am an artist” and I proclaim, “This stuff is really expensive to buy!” But, I buy it. She also has some very quirky ways and moves, none of which I try to stamp out. I let her be as weird as she wants to be. Some of my friends and I were young weirdos too once upon a time. I tried to fit into corporate America. It didn’t work. I tried to work for others. I got fired. I had to fight quite a bit to veer off the beaten path and I’m not about to force feed my daughter’s course. What parents think are frivolous hobbies can actually become the next million dollar businesses right under our own roofs. Or better. They can make your kid into an adult who has found a passion that can make them happy for a lifetime.
Genius and multiple intelligences are real and yet, we parents are often the worst at recognizing these nuances despite how we dote over our children. Don’t be disillusioned and jaded by the world and definitely be cognizant that you can pass this along to your young ones. Parents, water the dope side of your kid like it was a flower about to bloom, because they are.
Super Chucky still flies!