As A Mom I Learnt That When Life Gives You Clay, Create Happy Kids!

Starting pottery classes with my boys helped me see the value in recognizing and seizing second chances for a more relaxed attitude towards life.

Starting pottery classes with my boys helped me see the value in recognizing and seizing second chances for a more relaxed attitude towards life.

Sometimes in life, all it takes is a wholesome new experience to bring home a sack full of wisdom and a bag full of smiles. Last week, I signed up for a pottery workshop along with my children, aged seven and five years.

I had expected that the squishing, pinching, rolling, and shaping of clay to their will, and creating something from scratch with their hands, would give my boys a sense of joy and accomplishment. What I discovered by the end was that, apart from teaching us how to coax clay into functional shapes, our pottery classes also imparted profound lessons for life.

Mothers always don the superhero cape for their children. Considering that I am the Ms. “Know it all” for my boys, it was rather surprising for them to realize that, as far as pottery was concerned, we were all equals, struggling at the beginner’s stage. They giggled with amusement as they watched me slog it out with clay as much as they did. Yet, this is when they deciphered that learning does not stop at any age, and each one of us is a constant work in progress.

As my children found comfort in the fact that there are many things that even the grown-ups have not perfected, engaging in pottery revealed to me the perils of perfection.

What about adults for whom failure is inexcusable?

On the first day, I found myself getting frustrated over my inability to handle the clay. I was not very good at it, and began to wonder if I had made the right decision in engaging with this art form! I am certain that many adults like me have grown up learning to reward their successes and punish their failures. Failure has become so inexcusable to us that just to avoid the possibility of a botch, we hold ourselves back from trying something new.

Children, on the other hand, take their flights of fantasy with the pure purpose of creating and watching them work without inhibitions reflected upon me how dropping unnecessary hang-ups is the easiest path to self-evolution.

Clay is a forgiving medium, as it allows us to scrap our creation and reuse the material to begin again at any point in time.

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Similarly, life throws many opportunities, granting us the ease of starting over, but we are so jumbled up in the vagaries of our daily routines that we often overlook these golden chances only to ponder over the “what ifs…” many years later.

We need to learn how to identify second chances that life offers us

The ease of starting afresh is what enabled me to work on my pottery piece without any pressure, and I could not help but wonder how my attitude towards life would be more relaxed if I could hone my ability to recognize and not let go of the second chances.

Another learning to take home was that while technique is important to succeed in making a beautiful piece of pottery, some of the best pieces get created when things take unexpected turns. My elder son, Karmanya, attempted to make an elephant on day two, but when the trunk looked more like a tail and the backside looked more like a snout, he improvised his piece and turned it into a Dalmatian.

The moral of the story here is that when life throws an unforeseen situation, one must try to figure out a positive twist to work around it. So when life gives you lemons, make lemonade; and when clay gives you a distorted tusker, turn him into a cute canine!

Just like pottery, there are certain lessons in life that you cannot learn on your own. Many of us think that we can battle all our life’s obstacles by ourselves. After all, our problems are ours alone. Pottery made me realize that while working with clay is a highly personal form of expression, you need the teacher to hold your hand from time to time to help you shape things better.

In fact, it was not just the teacher, but also my boys who held my hand occasionally to help me shape my creation. Stating the obvious here, but just like in pottery, having a helping hand in life never hurts.

Sometimes patience and care truly are the key

One does not seem less capable by occasionally seeking help, and similarly, one does not appear to be less competent by choosing to slow down. There are many phases in the pottery process between starting with clay to holding a finished cup, and none of the steps can be rushed. If one rushes the prepping, there are bubbles in the clay. If one rushes the forming, there are cracks in the rims. If one does not wait long enough for the pieces to dry, they explode in the kiln.

We can’t just do one thing at a time and feel good about it if we start applying the same principles to life, it’ll give us peace and joy and keep us from drowning in exhaustion. Pottery has taught me that multitasking is truly overrated and if not always, then at least occasionally, one must surrender to the pleasures of slowing down.

Every child is an artist… until he decides to grow up

On the concluding day of our delightfully gratifying pottery workshop, my boys and I indulged in cocoa and conversation with our teacher, Ambika. Among other things, she revealed how it was more exciting for her to work with children as they were not confined by the shackles of conventional norms.

“Every child is an artist,” she said, “until he decides to grow up.”

Her statement brought me to a very pertinent question. How can I, as a mother, ensure that my children continue to engage with art once they grow up? What will happen to their creative streak after they step into adulthood?

The answer came from my younger son, Eklavya.

“Keep making the cup YOU want to make,” said the little one, surprising us all with his Zen wisdom.

To sum up his advice in the words of a grown-up, we must stop being inhibited by what others think of our actions and embrace the childlike wonder living inside us, no matter how old we get. Only when we rebuild our relationship with our inner child will we open the door to true happiness?

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Image source: CanvaPro

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About the Author

Priyamvada Singh

Priyamvada left a decade long career in the television industry in Mumbai a few years ago to restore a 150 year old ancestral fort in Rajasthan, give the village of Meja a new look, and read more...

2 Posts | 1,807 Views

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