Friday, February 20, 2009

the artist way: week 8

This week in the Artist's Way journey, there's a lot of time dedicated to looking at early patterning: what you were allowed to do and weren't allowed to do as a child, your parents, siblings, teachers attitudes toward your creative endeavors, and where along the way you were either encouraged or discouraged. This was actually a particularly difficult week for me, not because my childhood was unhappy, but because my childhood was great!

I'm very, very lucky that way. I grew up in the suburbs in the 70's, before there were malls on every corner; back when you could jump on your bike in the morning and just go, as long as you were home when the streetlights came on. My dad was always working (except when he was injured at work. But that was better; he was home to see us all day!) My mom didn't work until we were all in school and then she was able to work "mother's hours": she saw us off in the morning and was home when we got off the bus. There was essentially NOTHING in my early childhood that would have interfered with my pursuing any creative endeavor I chose.

Then I started thinking about the term "patterning". I started thinking about how both my brothers and I filled a "role" in the family. I don't really think any of us were pushed into that particular role. It was most likely a case of assigning a role based on the personality traits we already displayed. My older brother was the smart one. My younger brother was the mischievious one. And I was the perfect one.

I was the kid who never got in trouble. I always did what I was told. I never caused trouble in school. I always got good grades. I had nice friends. I excelled at sports. The only thing I didn't do well was...rebel. I don't think it would even have occured to me.

The interesting thing is, now that we are older, our roles in the family have switched. Now, my older brother is the perfect one. He got married, bought a house 5 miles away from my parents, had two adorable children, and now works for the same company as my dad. (really took the pressure off of the rest of us. I thank him for it every so often) My younger brother is the smart one. After goofing off through high school and undergrad, he floated from job to job for a while. Then he took a couple classes at community college to raise his GPA and went to law school. He graduated in the top 5% of the class and now has his own practice. (not bad for the kid who got kicked off the bus 3 years in a row) So I guess that makes me -- the mischievious one? Well, we are adults now, so let's change that to -- the non conformist.

The one who moved cross country. The one who isn't married. The one who doesn't own a house. (The one who blogs) I

I look at my neices and nephew now and I realize that I think of them in terms of roles, too. There's the dramatic one, the dark one (seven year old pre-goth, anyone?), the chatterbox, and the little athlete. (they are all the cute one) It's made me think that maybe I treat them a certain way because of how I think they are going to act, rather than how they have behaved. And I'm trying not to.

Hmmm....I wonder which of them will end up living in the garaje mahal in 30 years?


Diane said...

Oh.My.God. We are SO alike. I grew up in the SAME situation you did... I'm the middle girl... I was the perfect one. I'm now the divorced one with virtually nothing to show for my 44 years (except a great kid, of course) compared to the 'stuff' my brothers have. How bizarre is that?!

Heather said...

Sounds like a fun childhood. :) I'm the oldest in my family - I'm not sure what my role was. Probably trouble-maker for awhile, followed by the more recent "wise older sister" role I seem to play now. Or maybe not so wise? Depends on who you ask, I guess.