Alternate title: Stop. Collaborate and listen. 

I'm enchanted by this post by artist Mica Angela Hendricks, an illustrator and graphic artist. Her 4-year-old daughter wanted to join in drawing in a special ordered, newly arrived sketchbook. In spite of her inward groans (and rather hoping it would be a short-lived sharing) Hendricks reluctantly gave in and let her go to work on a page where she had been sketching a face from an old Hollywood black-and-white still.

Mica Angela Hendricks & daughter |  via

Mica Angela Hendricks & daughter | via

And so a collaboration was born, producing uniquely creative mash-up art together that draws on both the experienced mastery of the artist mom and the unabashed creativity and go-for-it-ness of the artistic daughter. (They're even selling some of it here.) And I love what Hendricks said about what she learned (go read the whole thing; it's all good!):  

"Try not to be so rigid...The things you hold so dear cannot change and grow and expand unless you loosen your grip on them a little." 

"If you have a preconceived notion of how something should be YOU WILL ALWAYS BE DISAPPOINTED.  Instead, just go with it, just accept it because usually something even more wonderful will come out of it."



As I do with most things I come across now days, I wonder about how this might translate into our mid-stage parent lives with teens and big kids?

Is there space in our territories of expertise
(be it in running
medical research
or anything else, vocational or professional)
where our mastery might fit perfectly with our older kids' novice enthusiasm & creativity to create something almost inconceivably wonderful? Or where loosening our grips might give permission for some incredible and unexpected results? 

On the other hand, maybe this kind of mashup is more rare because necessity doesn't require that we share our (metaphorical and real) sketchbooks with big kids. Or perhaps they don't ask or aren't around to see them in the first place.  Or maybe now we're the ones begging them for collaborating space on their canvases! Either way, what's your experience with teaming up with your teens and big kids?

Surf & turf

When we first heard that we were moving to Australia last year, Greg put "learn to surf" high on his list of things he wanted to do. Never mind that we would live two hours inland. Or that we didn't have any equipment. Or know-how. Details!

It took him almost a year to get us out there but over ANZAC Day weekend last week we finally got the chance to give it a try. It was a beautiful autumn day at Narrawallee Beach: gentle, learner-perfect waves and surprisingly warm water.

We found a guy (this terrific and pretty hilarious surfing coach) to come meet us on the beach and put us through the paces, from warm-up stretches to sand-surfing to catching waves. 


In the middle of the day, I realized that we had hit upon the ideal mid-stage family activity: not surfing specifically, but learning something new together. The key? It was something where we all were equally, flailingly, hilariously novices.  No one was the boss or the expert (well, except Simon the coach. And he was good at being bossy, believe me.) It was in no one's wheelhouse, no one's turf. Just a bunch of newbies out trying something new together; no winners or losers, only cheers for anyone who made the slightest progress or caught the littlest bit of wave.

To G's delight, I think we're hooked. The surf school was getting rid of this season's wetsuits so we ended up getting one for each of us at a great price. (And, as an added bonus, we can all dress up as the Incredibles for Halloween in our matchy-matchy gear. Or not.)  Next up...what? Golf? Archery? Ceramics? Cricket? There are so many things we don't have a clue how to do it's hard to know where to begin.

[By the way, you've probably noticed by now that I am not featured in my wetsuit glory in any of these photos. Yes--and I guess this might water down my point a bit--in truth I was that mom. The one sitting out, taking the pictures and watching. I wholeheartedly agree with the get in the picture movement but let me just say, here and now, that on this particular morning I was delighted--THRILLED--to be documenting this.  I was perfectly content wandering the beach, reading in my beach chair, and cheering everyone on.  But I will say this: Next time I'll definitely surf. And now I've got my own supersuit.]

If you're in this part of the world (after you come and have a chat with me, of course), consider heading to Mollymook, Ulladulla and Narrawallee beaches on the South Coast. We found a great little cottage just a couple of blocks off the beach via Stayz. We ate at the classic beachside diner at Mollymook and strolled through the shops and cafes of the lovely historic hillside town of Milton. It was early in the off-season and we felt like we pretty much had this whole lovely area to ourselves!