Your children often offer the purest opinion on subjects primarily because they have yet to be influenced to the point of adding to much ‘known’ or ‘heard’ information into said opinion. Instead, they most often just tell it like it is — they like it or they don’t like it.
Case in point was last summer when I took Dylan and Liam to the L.A. County Museum of Art to see a Tim Burton exhibit. While we had been to museums before, their attention span had lasted all of five minutes. This was the first time they stopped and looked. I could almost see the wheels turning in their head and was excited to see if they would tell me what they thought. They asked questions more than anything about what they saw — from paintings and sculptures to costumes and video. Every question came with a ‘why’ — something I said I couldn’t really answer. They had to decide. That elicited two frowns.
When I asked them what they liked, the answer was everything. I liked that response.
Thinking they had enough, we turned to go but they wanted to see what was housed in the other buildings. I liked that even better.
When we hit the modern art installation, and they saw basketballs encased in gel and cornflake boxes stacked to the ceiling, they laughed. Dylan said it was silly. ‘Why would they do that mom?’ Again, I had to tell him that it wasn’t up to me to tell him what the artist intended — I had already seen that in museums before when someone next to me blathered on about the artistic intent and what it all meant.
When we talked about it again later, I told Dylan that while the artist might have intended one thing, the only important meaning was the just because conclusion that he felt when looking at it — whether he had a connection with it or not — that held the real meaning. If the corn flake boxes meant silly to him, then that was the meaning for him. For someone else, it could be some social commentary. Who knows.
All I knew is that my kids made a connection with art that day as they now do with music, movies, and even books. And, what meaning they get from it is entirely up to them. All that matters to me is that they are exposed to as much as possible and not told by me or anyone else which song is good, which movie is boring, which painting is lame, etc. That’s not to say that a recommendation should be turned down as it is simply exposure to more potential connections.
Sometimes, when I read book, movie, or music reviews, I wish my children or their friends would have written it instead of some underpaid but holier than thou writer. It’s because their response would be ‘just because’ or ‘it’s cool.’ That’s way better than some pretentious analysis. Even worse are the writers that create the summaries for dust jackets, back covers, or Netflix. That’s too much power and influence for some snarky freelancer.
Ignore it at all costs and just go with your intuition — it’s what connects you to the meaning that means something to you.