Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lessons from my niece

I never thought I'd be great with kids. The mere thought of walking into a Babies'R Us store for a shower gift creates shudders. Memories of a babysitting job I did back in college were the mental equivalent of birth control as I'd sometimes juggle three of the ankle biters at once. Plus, as a musician and artist I couldn't fathom any other children other than my songs.

But something beautiful has awakened in me as I've gotten to know my niece. I played a little with her in Paris this past summer, but over Christmas break was when she and I really forged a bond. I was disarmed by her completely unguarded nature and charming sense of play. You forget at such a young age (she's not quite 3 years old) that nothing has happened yet to jade this precious openness. Not to mention the fact that she's a GIRLY girl and secure in her innate femininity. Which side of the family she's inherited it from remains to be seen, but I LOVE that I can validate her when she looks to me or her other aunt or Mom for affirmation. Throw in the fact that her family wants her to learn French and I'd eagerly launch into singing French nursery rhymes to reading a French comic book. Here's an excerpt of the one she kept asking me to sing:

Sur le pont d'Avignon, on y danse, on y danse,
Sur le pont d'Avignon, on y danse tout en rond.

Does this mean that the parental desire is kicking in? Hardly. So much is involved in taking care of an actual life that this concept is still tucked in the back of my mind for now. But the sense of play and delight has inspired me as an artist in a way that I've often forgotten to tap into over the years. Every artist faces the danger of overthinking their work. Whereas my niece just dives into play. No worrying about whether her tea party is going to suck, or how she should draw.

I think I just came up with my next song idea...


Tracey Clarke said...

What a great blessing it is to be able to "see" little gifts given to us through less than obvious places..or people.

Janie Chu said...

Thanks Tracey! Yes, little treasures in unexpected places for sure.