Art is a subjective way to express oneself. It is through it that we learn and see a lot. That is why we at CreaTee, wholeheartedly believe that the children’s creations are more at what occasionally has been described as “ a scribble” It helps children tell their story in a way that makes them feel safe and understood. As adults it helps us dive into their thoughts and feelings. A scribble is never just a scribble.
About a week or so ago something happened that reminded me personally of the value of what we are trying to do through arts. I just want to take this opportunity to tell all of you the story of a little boy who I will call Isaac. A very bright,5 year old boy.
Isaac goes to a learning center and we happen to know the principal there. We have also recently been at the center helping out with the curriculum development..
We got a text message from the principal that she needed help from us, to come in one day and observe him. Isaac apparently has not quite himself, being rather rough with his fellow classmates. He was throwing physical and verbal fits. His eczema was flaring up and mum was also getting blamed for his disease and discomfort. Literally.
We came in on the day that Isaac was supposed to be getting one on one time. It was quite soon after his last meltdown. I did what I knew how to do and proceeded to tell him that I wanted a storybook with him and gave him three images for him to choose from and create a character. He settled on Walrus. That was what he decided on. Let him color and write the story for him where he needed me to. He came up with what could only be described as supernatural meets science fiction ( the character names were much longer than simple R2D2). The drawing was different colored shapes and lines that represent characters to him and his story.
Isaac was quite clear and precise about his magical/science fiction story. People being touched by certain powers and turned evil including the house that these characters were living in were impacted by these beings.
On the fourth page, where it was the conclusion, the ending. It was where people and the world and people were gobbled up by the monsters represented by what looked like a hurricane and wind.
He finished up the story. Then he proceeded to show me “ See, I drew two monsters.” I am the monster. Mummy is the monster.” from Mr. Walrus to monsters. That was the first time I heard that from him.
I was getting a lot of feelings of anxiety and anger out of these drawings for sure, but was not in the position to say or do anything yet. The principal did see the whole scenario unfold and decided to include me in the conversation she was about to have with his mother during pick up.
Came to find out that she recently started back working at a small cafeteria and dad is in the army, with military style and beliefs. He has had eczema before but he has been getting constant flare ups and it has been stressful for the both of them at home. Admittedly the mum said that some words were exchanged between them at various times and reasons that were disclosed.
Mom feeling stress and guilt for loving and going back to work and Issac missing his mom when it is that relationship that he has known for 5 years of his life. That was the tip of the iceberg that revealed itself in that moment. I also have to point out at this point that we feel blessed his mother was open hearted enough to hear what we had to tell her. She, too, opened up.
The educator and psychology part of me clicked, We knew how to start helping him. A change in his timetable, his private and learning sessions and being more involved in the play acting sessions with a smaller group to ease him.
The next time he came back and we implemented those changes, I did mention however , to keep an eye on things should we need to move differently. Thankfully, he responded rather quickly and positively to those changes. That positive sass and zest that he has had was coming back.
It felt really good to see and be reminded of the positive impact that came out of our session. Also reminding myself and others that those “scribbles” are more than that. It does tell a meaningful story. If you ask the right questions, sometimes not even dig too far, you feel it and truth will come out. As parents, as teachers , as adults we need that reminder sometimes. You continuously live and learn. Discovering and expressing through creativity, We see and understand the souls better, helping each other better. That is the intent.
About About the writer
Mazura Illani Manshoor graduated from Boston University with a degree in Psychology. She is a certified Early Childhood and a Montessori teacher with years of teaching experience.
She is also co-founded CreaTee and has the strong passion for children and education causes.
Photo credit : Lia Russy