Monday, January 26, 2015

The Parable of the Trash Bag Prom Dress: Am I Raising a Creative Child?

Let me share with you the parable of the Trash Bag Prom dress. Shown below:

Trash Bag Prom Dress created by Katelyn Gallacher for www.jengallacher.com

Click HERE to pin for later.

I am blessed with three beautiful children who both had and have unique and amazing talents. Sometimes as a parent, you question your child's ability and vision when it comes to their creativity.

My middle child, Katelyn had a Senior Dinner Dance she attended this last Saturday. This particular dance is stag (meaning that all Seniors are encouraged to attend without a date). The Student Council selected a masquerade theme and the dress was semi-formal/formal. For each dance Kate has attended, we have spent a Saturday or two dress shopping in order to find her the perfect dress.

But for this particular dance Katelyn was determined to do something completely different. Ever the one to change the social rules, Kate began talking about a "trash bag prom dress" as early as her Sophmore year. Recognized as the resident Artist at the high school, I am sure many people (including her parents) shrugged off this idea. Little did we know just how determined she was to make this vision come true.

As the date for the dance drew near, Katelyn's discussion about the trash bag dress became more focused. I began to worry. I wasn't any way near as confident as Katelyn has been in high school. I only tried out for things I knew I could successfully accomplish. Kate on the other hand has tried for any number of activities with little to no background in them, and she has been incredibly successful at nearly all of them. She's not afraid to fail, and she doesn't seem to care very much about what other people think. It's a unique combination of courage and creativity that allows her to do many things well.

But as her parent I was concerned. I didn't want anyone to laugh at her. I didn't want anyone to judge her. I didn't want anyone to think less of my beautiful, sweet daughter. And her dad was just as concerned as I. This isn't the first time we've tried to steer her in a different direction. Katelyn often has grand visions, and sometimes we worry enough that we intervene. But this year, Katelyn is now 18; and this is her last opportunity to try something wildly creative like creating a dress from trash bags. So I had to suck up all those anxious feelings and let go. It wasn't easy. And I fretted and fretted and fretted.

The morning of the dance, Katelyn arose at 7 a.m. and worked on the dress for over three hours. She designed the dress from the inside out just like you would real fabric. She has been sketching dress designs almost her entire life so I am sure this concept has been ratttling around her head for some time. The entire dress is held together with staples and includes both white kitchen trash bags and large, black garden trash bags. When she brought the dress into show me, I made some under-the-breath comment about her being "crazy." Her face fell a little as she went back to her room to put it on.

In that moment I realized all the concern and worry were solely mine. She was thrilled to be expressing herself. She had a clear and distinct vision, and she wanted more than anything to have the support and love of her parents. She wanted us to trust her enough to let her go and be happy for her. It wasn't the kids at the school that were putting her down. It was ME!

It was then that I knew I had to look at things differently. I had to accept that she was proud of herself and I was proud of her as well. By the time she had her hair curled, make up on, and made her grand entrance, I was seeing the dress in an entirely new light. It was beautifully constructed. The dress design was sophisticated and fun with an air of fantasy about it. As we taped her into the dress, I realized how lucky I am to have a daughter who both has many talents but pursues them with passion.

While I still worried that others would not receive her openly, I was excited to hear about her experience the next morning. She was happy to report that most responses had been positive, and that her goal of making a statement piece that helped people connect and hold conversations had been achieved. She knew what she was doing. She knows who she is.

What if more of us had this same drive and confident nature? What could I accomplish if I quit worrying about what others think, and did what was in my heart? What if I took more risks and explored more of my creative side?

Kate is constantly teaching me. As her parent you would think it is the other way around, but Katelyn has this ability to make you see things differently. I only hope that someday I can be more like her. She is an amazing example of someone who has learned her own divine nature and embraces all that her Heavenly Father has given her.

The next time your child comes to you with a grand vision of something that makes you squirm a bit, let go. Support them, help them, and then let them know how incredibly proud you are when they give it a shot. They may just come up with something like this that kind of blows your mind:

Trash Bag Prom Dress created by Katelyn Gallacher for www.jengallacher.com

Thank you, Katelyn, for the lesson!

19 comments:

  1. She did an AWESOME job and she obviously has her mother's gene of the creative vision!!

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    1. She definitely impressed me! It was fun to see what she had in mind. :)

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  2. How a girl can look that gorgeous in rubbish bags, is beyond me - she's an inspiration to us all!

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    1. I know, Suse! I can't believe how "realistic" it looks. In fact several people at the dance didn't even notice at first.

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  3. Wow! Good for her! And good for you! It's hard to let them be themselves and not pass on our own worries and doubts. It's awesome that you recognised this in yourself and let her make this statement. If she's this talented with garbage bags, I can only imagine what she'll do with fabric :)

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    1. The crazy thing, Cara, is that she's only had one sewing class in her life. Just one more way she's talented I suppose. I wish I were more like her. :)

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  4. Anonymous10:49 AM

    It's really amazing what you can do with trash bags. I love trash bag dress.

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  5. Amazing! Good for her to be her own person and be secure in that. I love the gown and hope she had a fantastic time at the dance. Again I say "good for her!"

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    1. Your comment totally made her smile, Gerry! Thank you.

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  6. What a wonderful lesson for you and what a fantastic dress she made...right out of Project Runway!

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    1. You're right, Gina. I learned a lot.

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  7. She's amazing, Jen! It's wonderful that she knows who she is and feels so confident about herself. It's a proud Mama moment! Take care, Kim :)

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  8. She looks amazing. This was a timely post which made me cry as just this weekend I stressed at home as my 12 year old went off to Scout patrol Camp WITHOUT AN ADULT!!!!!

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    1. Those first campouts are SO hard. :( I hope he has a wonderful time though!

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  9. Wow! What a wonderful, creative vision and what a GREAT storytelling job Mom!

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