“I like your drawing.” You can’t say “What is it?” Kids get insulted.
“You should know what that is, Mommy!” they’ll say. This art’s pretty good. By “good,” I mean easily identifiable by a non-parent. I’ve been surprised with the quality lately. He’s been doing a lot of drawing and clay. Maybe I’ve got a little artist on my hands. I’m not a Picasso stage mom or anything, but he’s better than me. I couldn’t color in the lines at six, let alone create anything recognizable without the FBI lab.
If I were a bit more astute, I’d have said, “It’s in the style of Jackson Pollack.” Then maybe someone would have praised my art and I’d be a bit more famous than I am today.
Declan, however, has been drawing field journals obsessively–bugs and things he sees outside, all the animals we discover. I can tell the turkeys from the turkey vultures, the robins, the fisher cat, even our dog made a guest appearance. I name the individual dinosaurs in his dino notebook–that’s not bad for six. Today, he made a rainbow, and is working on all the characters for Plants vs. Zombies.
“Can you see all the plants I made?” I point out each and he smiles. I know exactly what he’s making. He moves on to the next picture. “I’m going to make space next.” He makes “space” with a rocket and thousand yellow stars.
I can’t see the stars on the white paper. “Can you make them blue?” I ask.
“No,” he advises, “stars aren’t blue.” That ends the “Blue Period” discussion. “What should I make next?”
I notice a lot of “boy” themes lately. I’ve worked very hard not to engender my child. Something’s happening very recently. Pink and purple are suddenly off the list and he’s asked twice whether boys can watch “My Little Pony.” I tell him yes, that toys and shows are for boys and girls. Someone told him otherwise. Now he wants to watch monsters.
“I think you should draw princesses, ” I say. He stares me down. I make a slight correction. “Princesses getting eaten by dragons, with a knight rescuing them, I mean.” That’s a good story.
“No. Princesses are for girls.”
“Princesses are for everyone. Princes like them.”
“How about a field of flowers?” Now I’m being intentional, clearly testing my limits. Famous artists draw flowers.
“Mom!” He pauses. He’ll have to take matters into his own hands. “I know.” He picks up a marker. “Superheroes.” He nods to himself and starts drawing superheroes. He doesn’t want me to feel bad. “Superheroes are for girls, too. They rescue girls all the time,” he tells me.
Thank God. Being a female, it’s nice to know we still have guys around to rescue us. I mean, since I can vote, own property and keep my own paycheck, I feel comforted knowing I’ll still be rescued should the need arise.
For some reason, Declan allows me into boy territory, because I like dinos, sports, and Plants vs. Zombies. It’s nice to be allowed in the man space. It’s a man’s world. Girls like me have to navigate it to survive. Boys don’t have to train to compete with princesses. If they’re lucky, they’ll meet one later in life. Or a prince, who knows?
In any case, he won’t let me draw flowers. I am only permitted to draw approved subjects when working with little Rembrandt. I’ll return to black ink on pages–Japanese styles where meditation and art are the same guys and girls and guys can draw a bamboo leaf or lotus blossom on equal playing fields. It’s what I know how to create. No need to go outside of my comfort zone and draw Superman.
I’d have to compete with the boys.