So I take Short to our local paint-your-own-pottery place to pick up his latest completed art project. My sister Oakley just flew in for a visit last week and was nice enough to take him to paint. However, she was not nice enough to help him actually write his name on whatever he made or provide a receipt. Which brings me (and the cashier girl and the manager and the owner) to our current dilemma: what did he paint?
Luckily, Short is with me. He can identify his own ceramic piece.
The manager smiles broadly at him. “Short, can you show us and your mommy what you made?”
He nods excitedly (delighted to have this audience of four) and walks right over to a gigantic dragon that was clearly painted by an adult with a Master’s degree in Fine Arts.
We all laugh. Four-year-old Short pouts, his feelings hurt.
I clarify, “Short, I’m not asking what you like or what you would like me to buy for you; I’m asking you what you painted when you came here with Auntie Oak. Can you please show me?”
“I know which one I painted, Mom,” he says, “that one,” pointing to a large platter with an ornate design of little gingerbread people all over it. If Fine Arts person did not make this, then clearly her even-more-talented twin did. Big sigh.
I ask the teen-aged cashier if she was here when Short painted with my sister. The cashier surprises me, “Why don’t you just call your sister and ask her what your little boy painted?”
Genius. Gives me hope for the next generation.
I pull out my cell phone, curse the 3-hour time difference, and dial anyway. Oakley answers on the second ring.
“Oakley! Sorry to call so early, hey, I’m at the ceramic place with Short and we have no idea what he painted, so do you…..”
“A tile,” she says, groggy, “a square tile.”
“Thank you! I’m so sorry I woke you, okay, go back to sleep.”
“Yeah. Bye.” The phone clicks.
The manager and I walk over to the tiles, triumphant. There are only 300 tiles here. One must belong to Short.
“Was it a handprint? Do you know what colors you used? Did you paint a truck?”
“This one!” Short grins as he hugs a very ugly tile, a tile that looks like green and brown and grey paint threw up on it. I gingerly take the tile out of his hands for closer examination. This looks like something an angry two-year-old might produce, not my much-much-older son.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to take home the wrong one….” I say cautiously. I turn towards the manager. “Lynette? I think Short would paint better than this, don’t you? Do you think this could really be the right one?”
She shrugs. “Honestly, MOV, I don’t know.”
I hold out the tile at arms-length distance. We are both scrutinizing it as if it could be a counterfeit 100-dollar bill. “It’s pretty bad,” I whisper.
At the bottom of the tile, I notice some semblance of a name in smeared black paint. It does not say “S-H-O-R-T”. It looks like it says “S-A-M”.
I shake my head and address the would-be artist directly. “Short, this does not say your name. It says, ‘Sam’. It belongs to another little boy.”
I make a face to indicate that the offending tile is icky and he wouldn’t want it anyway.
Short mirrors my face: Yuck. Dog poop. Wouldn’t want it even if it were free.
The owner decides to add her opinion, “I think you should call your sister again.”
“Yes, me too,” chimes in the (formerly helpful, now merely annoying) cashier.
I hit re-dial.
“Hello?” says Oakley.
“Me again. Soooo sorry. Do you know what is on the front of Short’s tile? We can’t find the right one.”
“Geesh, MOV,” she says, starting to sound peeved, “It’s like, 7 AM here. I dunno, it was a swirl of brown and green paint, he was trying to paint some leaves or a tree or something. Oh, yeah, I remember, he tried to write his name at the bottom, but it doesn’t look so much like it says ‘Short’…. It probably looks more like ‘Sam’. Does that help?”
Oops. “Thanks, Oak, we have the right one. Love ya!” I click my phone shut and turn towards my son.
“That’s it! That’s the right one! Beautiful!” Only I exaggerate the syllables to sound more like beeeeee….YOU….teeeeee…..full.
Short still has the “ick” face on. Dog poop, remember?
No, no, masterpiece! Rembrandt now! Happy!
Short looks at the tile and back at me. “I made this?” he inquires, perplexed.
“Yes?” I offer tentatively.
“I LOVE IT!” he beams.
And so do I, now, too.