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Shhh... I Don't Know What I'm Doing

My words to live by are "fake it 'til you make it." In most things, I don't know what I'm doing, but the goal is to make people think I do. In teaching, when a kid asks a question you don't know the answer to, you say: "Let's look that up together" or "Why don't you find the answer and share with the rest of the class." If students only knew that these responses mean, "I have no idea and I need to Google it." Secrets out now, I guess.


In parenting, Googling is my best friend. Why isn't my kid sleeping? Why is she sleeping so much? What is the best kid shampoo? What are parabens? But also questions that they ask me like: "How do you build a set of rocket boosters?" Of course, their answers are always way more interesting than what Google has to offer. (Apparently, when I'm older I will have my very own set of rocket boosters that I can use to get things out of trees and off the roof. Should come in handy).

In art, I kind of, sort of know what I'm doing in terms of how to paint and draw stuff, but related to the business side of art, I'm out of my league. This recent self-publishing book project has been the most interesting and sometimes overwhelming project because I have had to learn a great deal about the process of making a book.


Sure I can make the pictures and write the story (I think), but finding a publisher, learning the publishing terminology, checking proofs, getting an ISBN number and barcode, learning what an ISBN number is, writing a copyright page, spending a whole lot of money on the book without guarantee of getting it back, ultimately hitting that submit button to the printer, marketing the book, getting it into libraries and bookshops, selling it online, and many, many other tiny details that require investigation can be overwhelming. However, learning this process has been fascinating for me. I haven't had so much fun learning something new since I was a student in school.


And I can say the same thing for teaching my students and parenting my kids. While I have no idea what I'm doing, the process of figuring it out is quite a lot of fun. And of course I make mistakes in all things I do, but I think the mistakes make the journey more fun. In the making-art-with-kids world, I believe it is more about the process than the end result. We shouldn't worry too much about the actual art product from kids, but more about how they create that art.

Even for us adults, we should enjoy the art making process and not stress the end result all the time. That philosophy is good for life, too - process over product people. And if you don't know what you're doing, the process will be even more satisfying. Who knows how my "I Don't Like You" book will do in the end, but I value what I have learned from this experience over all the books sales in the world. (Although a reasonable amount of book sales would be nice).


To sum things up, I think it is best to quote one of my favorite musicians, Pitbull. He says, "I don't understand the word 'lose," I only understand the word 'learn.'" Pitbull just gets me.


(Also, parabens are bad. Google it.)

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