A little boy drawing in a book on the ground


‘I Wish I Could Draw Like My Kids’ Because I Miss The Carefree Creativity Of Childhood

Apr 30, 2019

I wish I could draw like my kids.

Not because they’re artistic prodigies — I love their work, but I’m their dad — it’s because they get so much pure joy out of it.

They’ll draw on anything: notepads, fancy sketchbooks, recycled scrap, ancient computer paper with the tear-off holes still on the sides. Sitting together at the kitchen table or separately in each other’s rooms, they just draw all the time. Whether portraits in pencil or menageries in marker, they’re always making art. It stretches their imagination, it lets them concentrate and focus and it also gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment.

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I want to draw like that and feel the specific delight that comes with creating art. But for whatever reason, I have it in my head that since I’m not a good artist (because I don’t have the right training or tools or practice or natural talent), there’s no point in really trying. Why bother drawing a rocket ship or a rhino if it’s not going to come out absolutely perfect?

Maybe my kids can draw every day because they’re not worried about how they keep putting off their taxes or dealing with that leak in the basement.

I know this is a silly sentiment, but I also know it’s one a lot of other adults share. There’s a quote that keeps getting attributed to Picasso or John Lennon: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” In other words, all kids do cool creative stuff, but then most of them stop. This is a pretty depressing observation.

When I was little, I drew. Somewhere along the way, I became self-conscious and gave up. It’s probably an adolescence thing — a lot of us develop this fear of how others see us, or of looking uncool or not being good enough, which replaces carefree childhood naiveté. It also probably doesn’t help that, as we age, many of us feel like we have less free time to be creative and more things about which to be stressed. Maybe my kids can draw every day because they’re not worried about how they keep putting off their taxes or dealing with that leak in the basement.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying adult responsibilities mean I don’t have fun. I still play video games, read comic books, cannonball into swimming pools and jump off the swings at the playground. I just find I have hang-ups when it comes to doing creative work.

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Take music, for example. My son recently started taking guitar lessons. Better at 4.5 than I am at 40, he has that innate sense of rhythm and an ear for tone I repeatedly tell myself I lack. When we go to his classes, I’m just as much a student as he is, trying to memorize everything his teacher says. At home, I’ll pick up his half-size guitar, open his songbook and try to play. I’ve got the riff from the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army down, and am pretty close to a serviceable Mary Had a Little Lamb.

Why bother drawing a rocket ship or a rhino if it’s not going to come out absolutely perfect?

My wife heard me practising Happy Birthday to You (that’s three different strings!) and asked me to perform it at our daughter’s party. I told her I wasn’t good enough to play in public — “public” being, like, five kids. My son, on the other hand, will happily play you Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star or the hook from Smoke on the Water.

He and his sister have been really helpful in my bid to be less self-conscious. They’re both still at an age where they think I’m great at everything (this won’t last, I’ve been warned). They believe I’m superhumanly strong, always brave, limitlessly brilliant and that I know what I’m doing. They also think I’m a decent artist.

I’m still not drawing on my own, but I’m always excited to make art with them. When we bounce ideas off each other about colour choices or shapes or whatever, it reminds me that part of the reason why this kind of art can be so fun is there are no rules or expectations. So when I find myself staring at my attempt at a dragon with the wings that aren’t the same size, and my kid says to me, “I wish I could draw like you,” it reminds me to keep things in perspective.

Article Author Erik Missio
Erik Missio

Read more from Erik here.

Erik Missio used to live in Toronto, have longish hair and write about rock ‘n’ roll. He now lives in the suburbs, has no hair and works in communications. He and his wife are the proud parents of a nine-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy, both of whom are pretty great. He received his MA in journalism from the University of Western Ontario.

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