Big Hat Mama

Perhaps another mother, pulls out a storage box of her child’s preschool art and looks with affection at the figure-paint swirls, the hand-shaped turkey, and the foot shaped chick, the stick-figure drawings (obviously an aide helped guide his hand on that one) and tissue-paper leaf collage, and the last-remaining kidney bean or pasta shell glued to construction paper, and reminisces about the years that have flown by. But I see no difference between the art my son made in kindergarten and that which he makes now, at 10, much like there is little difference in him, his abilities.

Except that’s not true–at least back then, he made a novice’s noble effort at the figure-paint swirls, the hand-shaped turkey, and the foot-shaped chick, the stick-figure and tissue-paper leaf collage, and the last-remaining kidney bean or pasta shell glued to construction paper. Then, art was new, and not just one more thing that is hard to do. Some might say he regressed; I think he’s bored of his own limits, like I’m so often bored by them too. Now I’m lucky to get a markered line from top to bottom of a blank notesheet pad.

Though I do have a scribble drawing hung on my refrigerator, like any other mother would do. White paper with indecipherable swirls, a free-form Spyrograph. On it, my son’s teacher translated the circles. I would have never been able to tell, but she drew arrows, labeled them: Big. Hat. Mama. She says he told her what he had drawn, and who am I to argue. Though I know my son, and I know, sometimes, the words he says are not the words that are in his head. But it’s the only portrait I have from his hand, so I hung it up because it means that he was thinking of me when he was away, at school, making art, no matter his level. And maybe nothing else matters to me or to any other mother.

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