Gruesome Pirates, Heroic Grandpas, and Graeme…

One of the reasons my dad is great is because when my son Graeme asks him to draw a pirate, he grabs whatever paper and writing implement is to hand and effortlessly produces stuff like this:

Or this:

At this point I need to make a confession.

“Forgive me, Parents who have been Parenting Longer than I, for I have sinned. Before I had children, I was inclined to Judge Thee In My Heart Without Knowing What the Heck Your Life was Like.”

“I wrongly believed that any Child Enamored of Violence Had Been Left to His Electronic Devices to Absorb the Evil Influences of Movies, TV, Violent Video Games, and Martial Arts.”

Now that I’m six years into this parenting racket, I’m not ready to call “nurture” an “assumption”, but I’m much less Blank Slate than I used to be. My boys, they have a very limited media diet. I’m a pacifist, for cryin’ out loud! Nonetheless, my boys crave pirates, knights, and anything involving weapons. They just do. They always have!

Graeme (3) even wants to change his name to “Graeme Pirate Stone.” Oh, and? He’s not satisfied if a pirate has just one deadly weapon. They must have, at least, a sword and a dagger–

My dad was initially reluctant to give in to every request for a drawing, fearful that Graeme would not stretch out his own little creative wings and make his own art. Never fear, Dad. Graeme carries the pictures around with them, colors them in, scribbles on them, and is {finally!} starting to produce his own Scary Art:

{Have I mentioned that Graeme also has a thing for TEETH? “Make teeth, Grandpa. Scaryteeth.”}

But the best part of Graeme’s obsession with his grandpa’s art is the way he sits by, watching delightedly, occasionally even panting with utter delight and anticipation as he watches Grandpa’s squiggles, dots, and lines become something that quickens his pulse, frightens him just a little, and fascinates him a lot.

Watching that tiny boy’s delight is almost sacramental, and I don’t say that lightly.

{Even if I do wish he was delighted in Grandpa’s drawing of somewhat less gruesome subject matter.}

Those of you who have children: have you ever been surprised by the things that capture their imaginations?

12 thoughts on “Gruesome Pirates, Heroic Grandpas, and Graeme…

  1. We have the same thing going on. Our non-media fed boys are always talking about killing each other and bad guys dying. Oh yes, knights, pirates and lots and lots of meat eating dinosaurs!!!! I’m never sure how much I should step in and how much to just let it take its course. I too feel bad about what I thought the parents of the little boys I babysat must have been letting them watch. Live and learn!

  2. Nice article, Rachel. You’ve described one of the secrets of good parenting: all those assumptions we made in our pre-parental lives are complete hogwash!

    As for being surprised by what captures my kids imaginations, I can’t remember anything specific in their early years. But I am surprised that both of my homebody children (now in college) are preparing for careers that will take them overseas to developing nations to work with poor and underserved people. I didn’t see that one coming when they were preschoolers!

    Tim

  3. Mine like guts. chopped off arms, pretending that everything they eat is crab brains, and also playing baby puppies…which for some reason involves throwing everything in their room in a huge pile. (it’s their ‘nicest’ game, but the one I hate the most). Micah made an impressive lego ‘gun’ to shoot his dad with the other day. He is also obsessed with mummies. He likes looking at all the gruesome photos of mummies, and even drawings how how they hooked the mummies brains out of their heads through their noses. the grosser the better for my 5 year old.
    I am really impressed by those impromptu pirates.

  4. Yes, looking at these, I think the concern for squelching Graeme’s creativity is one to be tabled. Good reading helps to make good writing, and good art offers children (anyone, really) a graphic vocabulary to express themselves (I think especially when they see it coming from Grandpa’s pen!). What an amazing Grandpa!

  5. Yes, I was indeed afraid that they wouldn’t want to draw, but no longer– what wonderful drawings! And with big teeth! I so love watching them make their own scary guys. Pure joy.

    Of course the most fun of all is that breathless excitement as the doodle takes shape. Heavenly…

  6. When my son was about 4 he was totally into knights. I asked him why and he said “because they protect people!” Interesting…

  7. Remembering when my first nephew was 3. My sister was soooo careful about what he had exposure to – no t.v., only books with sweet stories, etc. One day she let him pick his own movie and what did he want to watch? “Taibo mama! Billy Blanks! Kick and punch!” and that’s what he watched … pulled up his little chair and watched a 30 minute work out video, grinning from ear to ear.

  8. Dante loves to punch and wrestle with his grandpa and grandpa. We had to tell him early on into this “boxing” thing that he cannot punch and fight with mommy or grandma. I haven’t heard any news from daycare yet, so I am hoping he isn’t trying to box with other kids.

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