There is a box of large, red pieces of construction paper outside each classroom. Each paper is folded in half with a name of a child in the class across the top. This is where their class artwork goes once it is finished. Last year I saw folders overflowing with paintings and scribbles. Moms joked about how most of them ended up in the trash after a short run on the fridge or in a pile in the corner of a room they seldom use. I bit my tongue. How easily creating artwork came to their children. The ease of their fingers grasping a pencil, a crayon, a piece of chalk, or a paint brush. How easily their elbow bent and their arm lifted their medium to the paper, in a color they chose. I wanted to tell those mothers that they take for granted life’s simple pleasures. I wanted to tell those moms how I dreamt of a pile of artwork created by my son independently to adorn our walls. To wall paper our walls. But I kept silent and tried to silence their flippant comments to my ears.
I remember the first painting I saw hanging in the classroom with Sebastian’s name on it. It was green. It was beautiful. It was perfect. I asked the teacher how he did it. She explained to me that he was in his stander. He was given two color choices and smiled at one, the green. They placed the paint on the paper and encouraged him to move his hands. They helped him move his hands and then let him try on his own. His arms would get stiff and sometimes his fingers would be curled. But sometimes he would open his fingers and feel the paint in between them. Later I would see artwork with not just his name on it, but names of his friends too. There were a couple girls that liked to create art with Sebastian. I imagined his smile, his complete happiness in those moments.
I have a notebook of artwork that I started doing with Sebastian was he was able to sit up in his high chair in Egypt, maybe around 8 months old. We have a picture on the wall in our kitchen that I helped him make for his dad for his second Father’s Day. I have photos of him eating markers/coloring his face, once. And pictures of me helping him grasp and move the brightly colored markers. Now that he is bigger, we set him up in his seat2go with a tray and paints on several occasions. Helping him move and waiting for him to do it on his own. It is a lot of effort as he gets older to hold himself up and focus on those muscles while then focussing on the muscles involved in moving his hands and arms while also grasping the marker or paint brush. It is not easy.
I picked Sebastian up from school summer camp last summer and the teacher had rigged up a marker with a wooden spoon and sponge with tape and created something that was easy for Sebastian to hold and maneuver on his own and they presented me with his very first, fully independent artwork. I thought I would cry right there. But I waited until I got to the car. My son is amazing.
This year I check his folder a little more frequently. I look on the walls in his classroom or in the hallway for his pieces. The hallway leading from our kitchen to the bedrooms and bathroom is full of his artwork, with a pile in his closet. I didn’t know when or if that day would come. We have so many pieces of art to chose from that some have to hide away in the dark! I should never underestimate my son. Ever.