April 14, 2010

I've Got Designer Genes.

When I was eleven or so, my dad and I were having one of those talks about what I was going to be when I grew up. I don't remember exactly what I said to him, but I remember at one point he told me I had 'designer genes'. I remember being shocked, since I was sure I didn't own a pair of designer jeans at all! Much later, it became clear to me what he meant, and that it was true.

My parents are both designers - my dad is an industrial designer and my mom is a photographer. My brothers are also both designers. In my early teens, I tried to rebel against design. You see, I wanted to be an artist, like my grandfather. I wanted to use pure mediums like charcoal and wear oil paint stains on my clothes and go around smelling of terpentine, like a real artist should! I wanted to roll up my sleeves and mix my own sweat and tears into my work; only then could I consider myself a true artist.

After art school, what did I end up doing? I became a graphic designer. And after that? A fashion designer. My dad was right - I really do have designer genes. It's undeniably genetic.

Now that I'm a mom, I am curious as anything about what my kids will grow up to be. They have such an interesting mix of creative genes in them! Next to all the artsy folk in my own family, my husband is the result of an artistic gene-pool as well (which is incidentally probably why we accept one another's eccentric behavior; we're just used to it). He is a professional musician and his parents were both artists.

Both of us can't help but assume our children will be artistic in one way or another when they grow up. Heck, they already are! My daughter Mia was able to draw with a crayon before she could even feed herself, and my son Bram can beat out a rhythm with his bottle that would make Steve Gadd green with envy.

When Bram plays a tune on the keyboard, Mia starts doing arabesques. And when they're finished, they applaud for themselves. They're natural-born performers.

When Mia wants a new dress, she will skip into my studio and point out exactly which fabrics she wants, how many pleats she wants and which trimmings she wants it to be trimmed with. Her gift for styling at three-and-a-half just blows me away.

When Bram empties out his box of blocks, he immediately begins constructing the world's most inconceivably high tower. He's two years old, and he has a dream.

When Mia sees anything that even remotely resembles a flower, she goes ape. She cannot resist the temptation to pluck even the teeniest weed or dead bit of grass if she thinks it would look nice in a bouquet. Her eye for composition is astounding.

But there are also times when my kids are about as artistic as a sack of potatoes. When Bram tries to paint, he seems to think the object of the activity is to throw as many paintbrushes as he can on the ground and then run all over the paper while giggling madly. And when Mia was recently introduced to the concept of painting Easter Eggs, she was much more interested in how quickly she could make them spin them around till they rolled off the table and broke. (Needless to say, we had a lot of egg salad sandwiches that day.)

I have to remind myself, they are still kids. They are doing what all kids are doing at the same age, so before I go and declare how amazingly artistically-inclined they are, I should probably take a step back and just let them do what they think they're doing, namely, making a mess and having a really good time in the process.

And at the end of the day, who knows, they might just both grow up to be accountants. Which is absolutely fine with me...as long as they're accountants with a passion for music and flower-arranging, that is.