When Braeden started making puppets, I’ll be honest in saying that sometimes we tried to give him “input” on what and how his puppets needed to be made. He needed to show less “thread”, more material, better precision or whatever else anyone could pick out. He immediately fired back on every occasion that these were things created from his imagination and that he made exactly what he wanted.
It’s not easy and sometimes we get it wrong but Braeden always reminds us that at the end of the day, his creations are his.
In a conversation with an actual professional puppet performer, I learned about the importance of originality. I was told that Braeden had two gifts…”maker” and “performer” and that at his age(9 at the time), this was not that common. He also reminded me to encourage his continued growth through experiences but to make sure that his vision is his.
The most important thing that he told me was this…
Give Braeden feedback in the form of a question. He needs to think through his choices in how he creates and build on his ideas. Often times, adults are more critical than helpful and it’s important to know the difference. One more thing, don’t ever lie to him. Have honest conversations about how things work. He needs that too.
This, of course, counts when he creates and performs at home but public performances are different and are subject to other people’s preferences. Braeden gets this part entirely and is quite open to even the worst feedback. I don’t want to spend any more energy on the school talent show debacle but I must share this feedback that he was given in front of his mother…
“Go on youtube and look at what other people do that perform with puppets. Maybe this is something that your family can help you with. You need to get some PVC pipe and make some sort of stage setup with you sitting below holding a microphone so that your puppets are above and no one sees you talking. I love the voices that you use but the timing of your costume changes for your puppets was distracting so maybe you need to think of a different way to do that. It’s just not polished enough yet and perhaps next year you can be more prepared. ”
She then added…..
“I loved having you emcee and announce the kids performing with your puppets. I think that worked great.”
I can’t even take this seriously right now.
Maybe this is what she was looking for…but then again, it’s made of cardboard, masking tape and a shoe. This is Braeden, by the way…about 2.5 years ago.
One more thing…Braeden often worried that people would make fun of his creating and performing with puppets. Today I am thankful for friends like this one, that supported him through sharing the stage and his vision…regardless of the outcome.