The budget wears a tight belt, even at a privately owned school. So I had only two pencil boxes of markers for the girls to share - one at each end of the table - for coloring their finished graffiti projects.

M, sitting at the opposite end of the long table from me, kept rising to come and check out our marker stash. Finally, she grabbed her Bristol paper and plopped down next to me, spreading her Graffiti on the table, and rummaging through the markers with grim determination.

I watched as C looked at M's innocently displayed Graffiti - portraying an earth vibrant with colors of blue and green hatched together in swirls and textures, stars hanging from string - and then looked back at her own sheet of bristol with a frown.

I saw her sneak a peek at her neighbor's graffiti - also more impressive than hers - and on down the table at all of the flashes and swirls and blobs of color and design...and then back at her own. I saw the lines at the corner of C's mouth betray her dismay, I saw her blink a little too long against her inward struggle against the hookworms of inadequacy. I saw her shrink back a little on her bench as she considered her project lying limp on the table in front of her - with what must have now seemed like a child's scribbles of butterflies and rainbows.

Then I saw her breathe in - swell with the air of determination, and set marker again to paper.

She didn't look up for the remainder of the class period - just remained in her circle of self, bristol, and markers. And when finally I said, "pack it up, girls," her gaze set an unwavering course toward mine. She smiled, handed me her project to hold on to, said "thanks, Stepper!" in the cheerful voice I have come to rely on, and scampered off to second period.

I thought of the MonkeyFish's first Sunday going to Nursery by himself - and how he had created a crayon drawing for Mother's Day. He is still too young to really care beyond the fun of an adult allowing him to be violent with a crayon on paper - but some day he will. Some day he'll bring me his scribbled masterpieces and will be proud of them and consider them a real gift - and he'll see them on the fridge, having no concept, yet, of whether or not they're any good. That's not the point. The point is the CREATING of the thing. The satisfaction of pulling something out of yourself and being able to hand it in tangible form to Mom. Something nobody else had created. That is good.

When all the girls had gone, I looked at C's project. No - it wasn't as skilled as M's, wasn't as thought out as S's, wasn't as well executed as Y's. It did, in fact, have butterflies and rainbows - not something you'd generally find on a graffiti wall.

It was her own take on what I had asked for.

And she gets an A.


Queen Scarlett said...

That was beautiful. The kids are lucky to have a thoughtful teacher like you.

Jeff and Ari said...

You were seriously meant to be a teacher! You'll have to tell me who was who ... I love learning more about our girls.

That Girl in Brazil said...

*warm fuzzies*

Bubbly smiles your way ...