Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One Way to Prove a Child's Bravery

Let me preface this post by stating that my kids and I have spent the bulk of our summer driving to doctor's appointments, with a little bit of swimming mixed in.

We have not been to the zoo, the beach, or the movies. There's been no mini-golfing. We haven't even gone to the really fun park.

I'm off my game, okay? It's this funky carpet house. Last Thursday Silas spilled yogurt on the kitchen carpet at breakfast, Calvin spilled milk on it at lunch. We fled town limits on Friday.

It's cluttery here, and very, very weird. There are boxes to be packed, along with boxes that were never unpacked. It makes for an odd scenario, and one that I'm eager to avoid.

So I'm no Mom-of-the-Summer here. We didn't bother making a Summer Fun list because I can't even find the popsicle molds. We all share one beach towel at the pool. I make the kids tear their ice pops open with their teeth.

(That last one is a lie, but I'm just one tiny step away, people.)

There is one thing I've wanted to do with the big kids, and it finally happened. We loaded up our artist friends Jess and Nora and hightailed it to DeFries Garden in New Paris.

Jess supplied real, live easels. What could possibly be more enticing?

The kids set to work.

The pond drew them all in, which pained me a bit, in light of all the flowers. I tried to "nudge" them toward the lush, layered, riotously colored flower gardens.

I totally peer pressured my kids to make a certain kind of art.

What? That's bad?

Don't worry, it didn't work.


They moved around a little, pinning down the angles and the light.

 And before long, vision took form.
You might say that bravery finds a child on a playground or a football field. Maybe even in that first teetery walk across a lunchroom, tray in hand.

I'm saying bravery finds her in a muddy palette of RoseArt paints. They gather up the guts to do it imperfectly. They risk being different or wrong. They dare to make permanent record of the collision of nature/mind/soul.

There, they learn that beauty is free for the taking. It's open to interpretation. It's alright to play favorites. There's room for every bit of them, whatever that means on a given day.

There, they see that art needs them to exist. The shimmering jacket of a dragonfly fades into water and sky without a little girl there watching it catch the light.

A pair of waterlilies stands straighter for their portrait, plucked from a sea of look-alikes.

They render an image and it all comes alive. 

It's art in itself, sitting back on a shaded, low stone wall to notice the wild, precise way that a child notices.

Next time, I'm bringing my brush.