Thursday, April 4, 2013
Into the Light
When I first entered Big Sissy's life, she was in the fifth grade. People can say all they want about junior high school and the pains of adolescence, but I'm pretty sure fifth and sixth grade are the worst! By the time Big Sissy was in 8th and 9th grade, she almost seemed human again. Of course, it probably didn't help her pre-teen rebelliousness to suddenly have a foreigner tagging around acting the part of her mom, but that's how it went.
By the time I showed up, Big Sissy was 11 and had been covertly drawing manga for years. I suppose she took to hiding her pictures because she got into trouble for drawing them. And, she got into trouble for drawing them because she drew them everywhere all the time. Each and every page of her school textbooks was covered with her illustrations.*** She also doodled on the backs and even the fronts of her homework and in-class assignments (as well as on tests and quizzes). It was as if each and every blank spot of paper was meant to be illustrated. Big Sissy was also famous for spending hours in her room redrawing different scenes from comics she'd read instead of doing her homework. And, of course, she'd quickly shove them into her desk drawer when one of us came near her room. Sometimes the drawer would be so full of "secret" manga that it couldn't be opened.
Those early years of our relationship seemed to be one continuous conversation (debate? argument?) about the proper place and time for art and about the need to bring her talent into the light so she could draw in the pursuit of a greater good. It took years for me to convince Big Sissy that we supported her talent, just not her semi-delinquent approach to it. Later, as she thought about her future and started to plan for college, we talked about the importance of balancing her passion for drawing with being able to support herself.
Recently, Big Sissy started drawing and painting in earnest again. No more textbook doodles or papers crammed into desk drawers! Finally, she's bringing her talent to the light.
So, what do you think?
***Before you judge her too harshly, I should tell you that textbooks in Japan are much different than in the US. They are thin paperback books that you purchase and keep, so Big Sissy wasn't defacing school property, just her own.
Oh, just in case you're thinking about it, don't be a jerk and steal her artwork.