Trying Hard to Raise Artsy Kids

“Every child is an artist; the problem is staying an artist when  you grow up.”                                                                                                                     –Pablo Picasso


When my children were small, I wanted them to have it ALL!  I wanted them to be strong right brained math experts AND visionary free spirited artists.  I wanted them to be smart AND athletic AND super creative and expressive!  Was all this too much to ask? Cause to me, my kids were the most talented young people in the world!  Why couldn’t they have it all? 

The smarts and the sports seemed to come easily to both of my sons.  So to foster their inner artists, I made sure my boys also had the tools they needed to open their minds to all things creative.  Their childhoods were filled with play dough and finger paints and pastels and charcoals….plus sing-alongs and freeze dance……and paper mache and tie-dyed old socks.  There were music lessons and art museums……and visits to plays, the ballet and to indie music festivals.

That’s ALOT of artsy stuff…right?  So you’d expect my sons to be REALLY into the arts, right?

But the creative and the artistic stuff…..they could just take it or leave it.  While they both have natural artistic talent and they have participated in my creative adventures without complaining, they both also seem to have a type of artsy-apathy that I just can’t undo.  So while they do go along to the paint-your-own pottery place graciously, I know that if they were given the choice, they would probably prefer an afternoon with the PlayStation 3.  

And so Josh, my oldest…….he never did try out for the high school musical, in spite of all of my nagging (err….I mean encouragement).  And he did not join the choir……. or take a single art class in his four long high school years.  Oh what a parental FAIL…..all my hard work and Josh just wasn’t the artsy kid I had hoped he’d be.

But what Josh did instead of getting all Jackson Pollock in high school was to play THREE sports every single year.  He lettered in soccer, basketball, and track and field…….and one year (due to an injury) even bowling!  And in his spare time, Josh managed to take a ton of advanced placement classes and to earn the highest GPA in his class…… and then headed off to an Ivy League school to study mathematics.

So Josh was on a path to success.  And, of course,  I was (and am) a super, super proud Momma!!  He had it all……….well almost.

So after spending 19 years dragging (errr….I mean accompanying) Josh to musical theater and ballet performances, I recently started to reluctantly let go of the possibility that my son would ever become a real lover of the arts.  Oh well.

But a good liberal arts university encourages exploration…..and Josh just happens to attend a great liberal arts university.  So the liberal arts prevailed and last year, quite unexpectedly…….. Josh tried something new and different.

And Joe and I were invited to a performance……

photo courtesy of Allison Bishop

photo courtesy of Allison Bishop

We don’t know how it happened.  Maybe Josh had lost a bet…..or maybe he was being blackmailed.  The Mob might have been involved or possibly Josh had been secretly replaced by one of those Stepford robots.  But incredibly……Josh had joined a performing arts group!

Josh swing 2

photo courtesy of Allison Bishop

photos courtesy of Allison Bishop

And Holy Crap……….He was DANCING!

photo courtesy of Allison Bishop

photo courtesy of Allison Bishop

The West Philly Swingers are a swing dance troupe and Josh looked as comfortable on their stage as he did on a soccer pitch.

Josh swing 4

photos courtesy of Allison Bishop

photos courtesy of Allison Bishop

And so Josh danced!…..and I was an even prouder momma!

photo courtesy of Fabiola Diaz Vera

photo courtesy of Fabiola Diaz Vera

So I officially take FULL credit for this.  I know that those bohemians in the West Philly Swingers will try to take some of the credit too………but I know for sure that this is all due to the finger paints and the show tunes!  

And for the record, it turns out that maybe, just maybe……our kids CAN have it all!    


Now to start working on my younger son, Jake!  Maybe tonight will be movie night…..hmmm….should it be Oliver, West Side Story or Les Mis?  Or maybe we can do some decoupage or go to paint-your-own-pottery!


To learn  more about the West Philly Swingers, here’s their site:

Wanna check out youtube videos for the West Philly Swingers shows?


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About Lisa

Lisa has two active blogs on Wordpress. Views from the RoofTop started as a blog space to share about crafting and using repurposed materials to make useful housewares and about my craft shop's mascot, RoofTop Chalie, the repurposed racing greyhound. It has evolved into a space to also share about the things in life that intrigue and inspire me. GAMES GAMES GAMES started because people asked Lisa to share many of the silly and fun games that are staples at her holiday parties.
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6 Responses to Trying Hard to Raise Artsy Kids

  1. lacartera says:

    Congratulations Lisa! Josh looks so comfortable out there. 🙂

  2. Deb Jackson says:

    I always love your blogs Lisa. You are such a talented writer! You and Joe did a wonderful job raising your boys!

    • Thanks Deb! You know, When Josh decided not to pursue soccer in college, we knew he’d find a club or hobby that would keep him busy. But we did NOT expect this! It is so much fun to watch and all of the yung people are so talented!

  3. Steven Squillace says:

    Congratulations Lisa and Joe, It looks like Josh put on a Great Performance. I know that You and Joe have to be over the moon about Josh’s decision. Josh turned out to be a very fine Gentleman Lisa, You and Joe did a Tremendous Job in raising Josh and now it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    P.S. You see Lisa all those years of dragging, ( oops…. I meant to say accompanying Josh did pay off )

    LOL 🙂

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