Another Reason I Teach Art to Children: I Understand the Burden of Being a Gifted Child
I have taught art to children for many, many years–and to thousands, along the way. Without advertising, parents of gifted children seem to just “find” me–and I, their gifted children. Many times, parents have come to me, saying, “My child is gifted. . . . .” I invariably repress my urge to respond, “I am sorry.” Being a Gifted Child is actually very difficult. In many ways, I believe that being more average is a much easier path than that of being gifted. But the gifted child does not have a choice.
I grew up in a small, rural town; and absolutely all of my life, I felt freakish, I felt that NO ONE got me. I am a great performer–even a clown–so I could easily join the ranks; but I always felt like an impostor because only a very tiny part of me was the people’s Favorite. The rest of me lived all alone. That is a huge burden for a child. Even I succumbed to the pressure a bit. Most of my life, I was just a Closet Artist. Art has always been part of me–but not always an obvious part of me. I more or less “rode the fence.”
“Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” – Margaret Thatcher
Hoping to feel less isolated, many children elect to just completely get out of the arts. This is especially true for boys, who begin to feel the arts feminine. Yet, the Artist can run; but he cannot hide. The inner artist will always haunt the runner and make him feel alone. Herein lies the cause of many teen suicides–many youth feel forced into the shell of living a false identity.
“Facts do not cease because they are ignored.” – Aldous Huxley
Without ever saying so, I am a person “out there” for my students who are experiencing isolation. I understand what is happening inside the isolated child. I was that child; I’ll always be that child. In identifying with the isolated child, my teaching art to children is service-oriented–my ministry–more or less. I teach so that children can know that they are not the Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch; the child can know that other Petunias are out there, too–and we understand.
“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that is where you renew your springs that never run dry.” – Pearl S. Buck
“Being an artist will always be a solitary walk–but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one.” – Jacki Kellum