|photo by MOV of Short's art|
“Mommy,” he said, “I made this for you.” He gave me a black paper tube, something precious confined in its spiral secrecy. The curly ribbon tied tight around it brushed against my skin, like a delicate spider’s wispy legs.
“Do you want me to open it now?” I asked, suspicious since it was only December 17th, “or do you want me to wait?”
He squealed, “Now! Open it now!”
“Short, is it for Christmas?” I prompted, the textbook version of my proper mommy-self appearing when called for. “Shouldn’t we wait?”His eyes filled with emotion, a mixture of sadness and betrayal, a betrayal of the Instant Gratification Gene that he had (undoubtedly) inherited from me. Then, in a fit of drama, “If you don’t open it now, Mommy, I will die.”
His words hung in the air, a semi-deflated yesterday balloon of sorrow floating nowhere.I was not expecting such theatrics rolled into a tube that was my only Christmas present (that I myself had not picked out and paid for) from my youngest son. He will die?? What’s in that tube, a secret elixir to prevent certain death caused by lack of patience?
His mood shifted mere seconds later. He was, after all, a mercurial kindergartner. “Or you can wait, Mommy! Whatever you like!” He skipped off in search of Pokémon cards, or the cat, or a stash of unbuilt Legos.I set the tube, red ribbon glistening like candy magic, under the prickly tree.
Christmas day arrived, and with it the promise of a special gift, a tube of happiness. I opened the present, and was thrilled to see a handmade calendar. Short attends a wonderful school where the teachers are constantly dreaming up elaborate projects (with their resulting byproducts to give to the parents). This particular idea was absolutely brilliant: the Virgo in me loved the practicality, while the mommy in me loved the sentimentality.“Did you draw this?” I asked with trepidation. Better to confirm first than to lavish praise on art that had the remote chance of belonging to someone else. Like what happened last week.
“Yes! It’s our family! You, me, Pop, and Tall! It’s us!” His stretchy grin wrapped around his little round face.“I love it!” I hugged him and simultaneously marveled at how The Husband and I had somehow produced a second artistic progeny, akin to Picasso or Renoir. “You and Tall are the very best artists in the whole world!” I exclaimed triumphantly.
“Yes. I know,” Short confirmed confidently. He took the calendar out of my grasp for closer inspection. “Oh, oh no,” he scrunched up his elastic face with all the seriousness of an appraiser being handed a blatant counterfeit piece that he is only now seeing for the very first time, “Pop does not look so good in this picture.”The Husband stifled a laugh. Truth be told, it was quite a good likeness. He had been accused in the past of having a large lumpy head.
Short continued his thorough and professional assessment: “Let’s see, his arms are good, his legs are good, his hair is good … but his head? His head is kind of big on one side. I didn’t draw his head very well.” A dark, gloomy cloud descended upon Short.“Short,” I said, shifting into full-on cheerleader mode, “The drawing is fantastic! I love it! I am going to hang it up on the bulletin board in the kitchen right now!”
And just like that, he was happy again. As was I. I inspected the lovely female family member he had so meticulously drawn—eyes as big and blue as swimming pools, hair scribbled with a crayon labeled “Sunshine,” lips like a robust Valentine, legs that could double for an anorexic flamingo, and to top it all off, a retro-inspired color-blocked dress—and I breathed a long, satisfied, sigh of relief: at least one of us in the drawing was realistic-looking.
|photo by MOV of Short's art|
(“Matisse Or VanGogh”)