If you want to know how a child is feeling, have that child make a mask. It will tell you a lot. Sometimes children (and adults as well) have a hard time articulating feelings. But using art as a vehicle of expression will tell you a lot about how that child is feeling.
Some time ago my granddaughter, Savannah, had an interesting assignment in school. Each child was given a large square piece of cardboard and the assignment was simple and uncomplicated, “make a mask that represents you”. I was fortunate enough to be at school that day to assist the students with the project. Nearly all of the children cut the cardboard into a circle or oval to look like what they envisioned the shape of their face to be, (there were one or two square ones). From there they were free to color, paste, and embellish their mask any way they wanted to, with dozens of options of artistic elements including beads, feathers, poster paint, glitter glue, markers, crayons, scrap booking papers, tissue papers, silk flowers, ribbons, buttons, dried beans, macaroni, Fruit Loops, and yarn.
I had always heard that children will fairly accurately convey who they are, or at least who they think they are, with their drawings or artist depictions of themselves. This assignment made a believer out of me. It was truly fascinating to see what these 8 and 9 year olds created. Some used almost nothing save a little paint or a black Sharpie to draw out their warrior looking expressions on the mask. Some had elaborate hair styles, either made from yarn or painted on, while others had no hair at all. Some looked very friendly, while others looked angry. One had no mouth. The psychologists in my family would probably say that that child felt he or she had no voice.
But of all the masks created that day, my favorite was Savannah’s mask. Not just because she is my grandchild, (though I will acknowledge I am a tiny bit partial to her work) but because of all the masks, hers was the most joyful with the happiest and most loving expression. And that absolutely sums up who Savannah is. My daughter Amanda, Savannah’s mother, often says she feels like she is a living Hallmark card. It is simply impossible to be sad or stay angry or frustrated for long when you are with Savannah. She is just plain sweet! And as you can tell, Savannah looks for all the world like the mask she created of herself 🙂
She is cheerful, colorful, happy, sensitive to others, creative, very loving, and just so much fun. And to top it all off, today happens to be her 10th birthday. Savannah, you make all our lives better and sweeter just because you are around. Happy birthday dollie!!!!!!! We love you even more than you know 🙂