Friday, November 15, 2013

New Colors

I crept out of my room at 2:30 p.m. after my alarm went off.  Charlie was asleep and Finny was
silent.  I promised him I would come get him after thirty minutes of quiet time, which means you may no longer need a nap, but Mommy still does.  His door was closed and he was so quiet I thought maybe he had fallen asleep.  As I slowly opened the door to see where he ended up, I discovered a treasure, something I’ve been anxiously awaiting for quite some time now—Finny, the Artist.

There he was, sprawled across the floor with a bag of crayons beside him, coloring in the lines, focused, concentrating, intent on his work.
“Mommy, do you know why I just crept out of my room to get this bag of crayons?” he whispered.  “Because when I sit here I’m thinking of art projects I want to do and I had to go get the ingredients.”

“That’s wonderful, Finn.”  On so many levels.  Wonderful that he was so focused on his coloring, but just as wonderful that when he needed something, he got it himself, without disturbing me, and then he entertained himself quietly in his room while he waited for me to take a rest.  Listening, respecting, understanding, focusing—all things that four-year-old Finny was lacking had suddenly arrived here on his bedroom rug.  I beamed.
“Can I go downstairs now?”

“Yeah, let’s go.”

“I want to work on my picture some more at the dining room table.”
And he did.  For an hour and a half, while I did my “art” arranging the photos on our Christmas card at the computer, he did his work, coloring his crown at the dining room table.  The two of us quietly working side by side.  Joy.

When my sister was in town this summer with her girls, I was amazed at the markers and crayons I was finding in every room in the house, stunned by the sight of the two of them sitting beside each other busy, busy, busy making pictures.  No fair, I thought.  I want a girl.  All my boys ever do is attack and destroy.  Can’t I experience what it’s like to have children who sit and draw quietly?
Just two months ago, his teacher showed me an art project he did in class that she said was
“unique.”  She wanted to show me because it was going to hang on the wall and she wanted to give me a heads up.  September was apple month and they were each supposed to make an Apple Person by gluing and arranging cut-out pieces of construction paper in just the right spots.  Finny’s was abstract to say the least, pieces slapped together haphazardly, the stem in the middle, the arms and legs scattered about, far from the result it was supposed to be.

When I asked him about it, he said, “Well, Mommy, I did that because when my eyes looked at it they decided that it was just too big.  It was almost clean up time and I didn’t want to run out of time to play.”
Okay, I thought.  That’s valid.  He’s five, wants to play, art is not a priority. 

But this morning, just two months later, in the forty-five minutes we had before we had to leave for school, he did not ask to watch a show, he asked me to make him a book out of plain white paper, to staple the pieces together.  And then he filled it—8 whole pages—with drawings of monsters from Monsters Inc.
I found myself scrambling to find more crayons, more colors.  The craft boxes were in disarray, abused and abandoned, caps off of dry markers, play dough--dry and crusty, and crayons--broken and haphazard, strewn about. 

“Where’s the purple, Mommy?  I need purple for Sulley’s spots.”
“Ok, ok, let’s look.  I’ll find purple.”  And I found myself dropping everything to find the purple crayon, to see him draw and create, rather than attack and destroy. 

And then he brought it with him in his backpack to school, pulled it out to show his teacher.  Proud.
And it’s not just drawing, it’s sculpting, wrapping, designing.  I keep finding piles of toys, artfully arranged around the house and the yard—Treehouses, he calls them. 

And ever since David’s birthday last Monday, he’s wrapped more presents than I can count. 

“Daddy,” he calls when David walks in the door, “I have more birthday presents for you!”  And there waiting for David on the dining room server are eight to ten gifts, toys wrapped in torn-out pieces of notebook paper and taped together with blue painter’s tape.  It’s been difficult to walk around this week without collecting pieces of blue painter’s tape on my slippers.  Gifts in the family room, gifts in the dining room, gifts under his pillow and ours.
This morning at 6:30 a.m. he walked out of his room wearing his State Capital crown (colored in the lines!) holding a tissue box wrapped in blue painter’s tape in one hand and carrying a party horn in the other.

“You going to a party, Finn?” 
He smiled under half-closed eyes, nodded his head.

This is fun.  The wrapping, the giving, the drawing and creating.  This is Finny at five, just a few months after four and a half, and already he’s different again, changing, evolving, revealing more and more pieces of who he is becoming. 
A little boy, destructive and energetic, messy and loud.

A little boy, sweet and contemplative, thoughtful and creative.
Every month revealing a new color, a new shape, a new image on a canvas that I sometimes forget is far from finished.