Monday, July 14, 2008

Tales from the Crayola Gallery

If you were to ask twelve-year-old Claire, or ten-year-old Claire, or fifteen-year-old Claire, or current Claire, who she kind of wanted to be when she grows up, Claire or Claire or Claire or Claire might very well say, "I kind of want to be a blond Seattle native with a nose piercing and corduroy pants." Which is to say that I kind of wanted or want to be my art teacher, Ms. Patti. She sort of reminded me of my aunt and sort of reminded me of Julie Andrews and sort of reminded me of all that was good in the world.

Not only is Ms. Patti a consummate artist, but she's also a consummate art teacher. Those two things do not always go hand in hand.

My brother used to cry havoc and unleash the dogs of war in her classroom, and she took it all entirely in stride. And she made me feel brilliant.

Well, life hasn't exactly come full circle, but I am now an assistant at another consummate art teacher's art camp. I spend four hours with kids from ages 5-13. This experience reminds me of why I love kids and why I vow to never have more than five.


When Peter, with his large brown eyes and high cheekbones, crawled under the table yet again, I remembered my brother (another set of large brown eyes) and Ms. Patti, the Mother Theresa, Audrey Hepburn and Nadia Comaneci of the art world, and how graceful and non-condescending she is. I remembered and I said, "Hey, Peter, you drew a terrific picture of Wall-E and Eve. Will you please sit up in your chair and draw me something?" I didn't lie. I never lie to kids. His picture of Wall-E and Eve was royally good, unusually accurate in shape and proportion, especially for a five-year-old artist. He drew me a pink and yellow Super Soaker in five minutes and then started climbing on the chairs. I love little boys.

The classes were full of precocious kids and quiet kids and talkative kids and kids that made fart jokes. And combinations of the four.

This one seven-year-old used the word "bloodcurdling" twice, along with a host of other words that take five minutes to spell. I was impressed. Even for a homeschooler, she was good.

I don't want this to turn into a Kids Say the Darndest Things entry, but thinking about the funny things that happened today reminded me of babysitting on Saturday night. I went over to my pastor's house to watch his kids. His three-year-old is notorious for getting up after she's been tucked into bed. She treated me pretty well; she only came to the door once. I knelt down to her eye level. "Hey, what's up? Do you need anything?"

"My nose hurts," she said.

"What do you want me to do about that?" I'm still a little hard at reading kids' expectations. I really want them to spell it all out for me. Luckily, she can.

"I need a nakkin to wipe my nose."

I returned with toilet paper wadded up in a little ball. She touched the tip of her nose and said, "I can't get the boogies out. Can you help me get the boogies out?"

I said that I was sorry, but I didn't think I could help her get her boogies out. I then told her that maybe if she went to sleep, they would come out easier. (Remember how I said I don't lie to kids? I don't always lie to kids.)

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