Walking down the hallway to pick up Son #1 from playschool, I would inwardly groan as I noticed that the class had – yet again – done another art project. Gah.
Sure, the media would vary – sometimes fat crayon, sometimes sloshy finger paint. But I could spot my Picasso’s work a mile off – his was the only one that was completely blank, save for his name in the lower right corner.
His name that had been written by his teacher.
The telling of this tale should be a strong case for art in classrooms, for minimalism; for allowing the gentle spirit of a child to just be. It should be an argument to support non-conformity.
Instead, my take away is to share my incredibly selfish observation of it all. Because I learned something valuable.
I should have been so proud of my mini-art-world renegade.
Instead, I felt my heart breaking into a million little pieces, over and over and over again. Because I could imagine him, his tummy sinking, as the teacher exclaimed that they were going to be ‘making’ something. How exciting! I could imagine him standing there in front of his little easel, staring at the vast expanse of construction paper and having it stare right back at him, and I could imagine his apprehension. I could imagine him looking around at all his classmates who were merrily scrawling away, and I could imagine him wondering, ‘Should I be doing this, too?’
Wee darling apple, meet Mama Tree.
My visceral reaction, in retrospect, was some murky intuition of deja vu. Here was a memory of my own childhood days; not exactly crystal-clear, but evocative, like a spindley wisp of something that wafted around my brain like a fragrance I couldn’t quite place.
(Is there a word like ‘anthropomorphism for parents and their progeny? Im quite sure there is – ‘Projection’, perhaps?) (‘Transference’?)
(Psychologists, please feel free to weigh in about the correct terminology and the many ways that I fucked up as a parent).
Imagine my delight, then, when this beautiful boy started going to elementary school, and when, every morning he would zoom downstairs, still in pajamas, still with that white eye gloop and with pillow wrinkles on his tender little cheek, racing around like his hair was on fire, screaming at the top of his lungs: ‘I NEED A PENCIL!!!!!!!!!!!!! I NEED PAPER!!!!!!!!!!‘I
It was as though a switch had been flipped – away he would joyfully create, like a child possessed, page after page. His muse had clearly been visiting him in his dream world; as was as though he couldn’t survive another millisecond unless these images were purged from his being.
After I got over my initial pissed-off-ed-ness of being bossed around by a tiny despot, I could only stand in utter amazement at the transformation.
I could only stand in awareness of my own ‘A-Ha’ moment.
Firm in my belief that we learn infinitely more from our children than they ever do from us, I am hopeful that someday soon, my muse will visit me in my dreams, and I will awaken to sit in front of my keyboard, gloopy-eyed and bed-head-ed, feeling my fingers fly with unbidden words filling page after page.
Gnarled, moss-laden tree – meet wise, delicious, apple.