It was a Friday night, ingredients were at the ready, and Kaiya was given the task of creating the kids pizza. The back story to this event is that Kaiya has become a self-proclaimed artist and is now spending hours a week colouring, painting and doing intricate, self-designed crafts.
She placed the olives, she placed the pepperoni, but not in the usual pizza fashion. Instead of the pizza technique we are all familiar with, an even mix of ingredients across the pie, Kaiya’s pizza was taking on a unique, art-like pattern.
I was about to criticize her technique when I stopped in my corrective tracks. I suddenly thought of the work of Julia Cameron who discusses the internal censor that we all have regarding our creativity. In The Artist’s Way Cameron defines the Censor as “our own internalized perfectionist, a nasty internal and eternal critic.” You know, that annoying internal voice that self-demeens our attempts at creativity and is often the result of some sort of unfortunate childhood event.
With this in mind, I took a second look at Kaiya’s pizza. Okay, so it wasn’t conventional. And no, she wouldn’t have a variety of flavours in each bite. But who cares? It looked cool, she was evidently proud of it, and the world would not end if this pizza wasn’t made in the usual fashion (despite my perfectionist tendencies). So chill out mom and let the artist work.
The whole experience was a reminder of the sensitive balance between meaningful encouragement and teaching versus criticism. The way I frame feedback and point out areas for improvement will potentially form how my kids judge themselves and their future endeavours. (No pressure or anything!) Another good reason to take a long pause before I open my mouth; the long-term impacts of my words are potentially limitless.