This was written some months ago. I just found the draft and decided to post it. Boy will be nine years old on April 29.
Art is included in Boy’s curriculum. He also signed up for an after-school art class held on each Wednesday during this school year. He is eight years old. He is in the third grade. He loves art. He has an appreciation for beautiful things that surpasses that of most adults I know. The one place he wants to visit in New York City is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I promised to take him.
The children in his art class are lucky. They have a very talented teacher, and they are able to experiment with all kinds of media. I think I posted a drawing of his once before. Maybe I even posted the lovely kiln-fired ceramic platter he made for me at Christmas. It would have satisfied any potter. I was thrilled and amazed.
Today, when I picked him up at after-school, I saw a really cute, typical, happy-faced clown drawing lying on a girl’s backpack in the hall. I commented how cute it was, and we walked on out to the car. I didn’t notice that he had a sheet of art paper in his hand with the image facing away from me. When I asked to see it, he said, “I don’t like it”. That was an odd thing for him to say. I asked why when we got in the car. He replied simply, “It’s ugly”. I let it pass.
When we got home, he left the drawing in the car, and raced off down the street to see his friends. He yelled back over his shoulder. “You can keep it.”
When I looked at the drawing, I knew why he thought it was ugly. I knew he had been the only one to draw a clown whose heart was not in the job. All his clown needed was a single tear to finish his story or a thought bubble containing an obscenity. I suspect some friend told him it was ugly. Boy is a happy child who started to create forts and castles and water-colored messes when he was barely old enough to grasp the biggest Legos and the brushes with big knobs like vegetable brushes. Once he painted Pops’ hands and Pops painted Boy’s face with finger paints. Boy painted murals on the bathtub sides too when he took his baths.
I will keep this clown. I know Boy will like it when he is a man. He may even smile remembering how he gave it to his granny because it was ugly.