My son Malachi is really good at art. He’s 6. He draws better than me. I’m serious. Sometimes parents say that with a proud grin. I say it with a proud shame. The kid is actually better than me at drawing freehand objects. And I’m like 31.
When I was his age, I drew stick figures to represent any and all people. I also used them to represent trees, houses, and foreign wars. I pretty much stopped developing my artistry at age 5. And no, it wasn’t because I figured computers would just “make it happen” for me, since we had nothing but punch cards and bootlegged copies of Oregon Trail running on our school library Apple II brown loafs. It was because a teacher yelled at me.
Her name was (and, likely according to her death certificate), Mrs. Downing. I’m sure she had a first name, though I couldn’t tell you what it was (is). Picture it: there I was, four-year old Adam, sitting at a desk at Douglas Elementary School. A large ball of clay sat in front of me, and my job was to roll it out from circle to pancake. We set aside many hours and many days for our entire class to accomplish this project, each kindergarten student rolling like mad so that they could pull a Michelangelo and shape beautiful holiday statues from raw earth. A brown-nosing student who shall remain nameless (Melanie) finished the project in record time. Her Easter Bunny statue was out of the oven and glazed while Mrs. Downing was rolling my clay for me, saying discouraging words like “Oh, Adam, when it comes to art, I have to do everything for you” and “I bet you’ll use a computer to berate my teaching approach someday.” She was right about the second one.
Malachi, I have no doubt, will eventually start teaching the art class at his school. Maybe he can teach me something, too. You know how parents sometimes pretend they don’t know something, just to see what their kid will do in that situation? When it comes to drawing, that’s me. Without the pretending part.
If you drive by our house tonight, 1) bring brownies and 2) look at the Jack-O’-Lanterns on our porch. He drew the faces and Emily did the cutting, following his lines like a pharmacist follows the scribble on a Doctor’s pad — counting each pill as if a lawsuit is around the corner and sipping on a Diet Pepsi she took from the refreshment center.
He drew a face on Lexi’s pumpkin of a princess. It looks like one. He’s that good.