Saturday, September 26, 2009

You Can Tell a Mother by the Artwork She Displays

Mothers display a particular genre of artwork usually referred to as "gifts". The value of this artwork is immeasurable. It's priceless in that it captures a moment in time that will be gone in the next instant, it's a tangible memory. The hands that made it will grow and change but the memories of the child, how they felt and saw the world at that moment, will always ramain. It's why, though you may be forty, your mom still has paper angels on her Christmas tree. The angel may just be a paper plate, awkwardly cut into shapes, stuck together by two and a half bottles of Elmer's and covered in a cup of glitter. But your mom sees chubby little fingers learning to use scissors, your favorite Strawberry Shortcake backpack from which you proudly produced that priceless squished angel on the last day of school before winter break, and the denim jumper she was never able to get entirely glue and glitter free after that day. It's why a crumbling blob of clay, resembling a gargoyle but proclaimed to be "You Mommy!" is still being used as a paper weight on Mommy's desk ten years later. I have one particularly artistic child and one who came home after a two month art camp with four candle holders (I think), painted black, and half a dozen popsicle sticks and a rubber band that he'd made into a slingshot. But, regardless of the skill behind the piece, I value each effort equally. My home is decorated with giraffes painted on printer paper and space ships drawn with pencil, tiny handprints pressed into salt dough and handmade Mother's Day cards. Some people prefer their artwork come from galleries, but I'll take a bookmark that proclaims "Yu'r the bes Mum" or a seven year old's depiction of the civil war, dead stick figure people and all, anyday.

Recently, my daughter has fallen in love with a wonderful shop that showcases pottery pieces of all kinds, just waiting for imaginative young eyes to see the promise in them and save them from a colorless life on a shelf. You pick, you paint, they fire and viola! Priceless, bright and shiny new salt and pepper shakers and seahorse figurines magically appear. My daughter's latest effort involved painting a treat jar for the cats. To the untrained eye, just a cute little canister with a fish on the lid, but my daughter unknowingly turned it into a biology lesson. She painted the lid, under the fish topper, to look like the Monterey Bay that we have come to love, breaking waves and all. The bottom she knew needed animals--- because everything needs animals in her opinion. She painted bugs of all kinds; caterpillars, ladybugs, ants. Pelicans and porcupines are particular favorites of hers, so they had to find a place too and then there was all the leftover space, what to do to fill in all that leftover space? Polliwogs! Polliwogs would would be just the thing, it was hard for me to keep a straight face for the rest of the day. Whenever she asked why I was smiling, I told her honestly that it was because I was having such a fun day with her. If you're laughing right now, you know what a polliwog looks like. If your not, let me enlighten you, a polliwog, or tadpole, is sorta shaped like a fat raindrop with a long squiggly tail, get it now? It's on my bar, I swear, if you'd like to come by and see it. I'm going to keep it there until she realizes... and that will be the end of innocence in my house, I guess. Then she'll make me put it away, but it will only go behind a cupboard door, not any further, because when I see it, I remember a really nice mother and daughter day. I remember having lunch and shopping for a new dress, and I remember how proud she was that she'd painted such a good porcupine, such a lovely sea, and so many beautiful green polliwogs on that cat treat jar. I made her sign and date it before it was fired so she won't be able to disclaim it later in life.

Cheers all,