Today's official topic is "Write about the best prank you ever pulled." Well, right there, I'm out. I can't think of any pranks I've pulled because quite frankly, the idea horrifies me. I'm so gullible myself that I buy into practical jokes with a pathetic earnestness and then stand there, betrayed, fighting back tears. But more about my childhood later. What I learned from it, in short, is that tricking people doesn't seem all that funny. Moving on!
Instead I'll talk about an experience I had with my child yesterday that previously we hadn't shared, even though at one time it was very important to me. That sounds all very portentous but I'm referring to "paint your own ceramics."
Oh, she's done it before. Many times. Lots of birthday parties where they're allowed to choose a puppy or a panda and she heedlessly sploshed a lot of dissonant colors over the thing and moved on to the cupcakes. But we'd never gone together, and hence, she'd never experienced the the event that is Mommy with a Mug and a Paintbrush--A Still Life. Very still, because I can do it for like eight hours. And have. Back in the pre-child days, when David often worked until 11:00, I frequented a wonderful place in Del Mar with my friend, Sara, who has since moved away. Run by two older women, it was huge, bathed in light, filled with music and didn't charge by the hour. They also encouraged us to bring in coffee and pie from the cafe next door. Why would I ever leave?
Jarrah takes an expedient approach to art. It's not that she doesn't like to create. No, she can spend an entire restaurant meal coloring in the menu, and our home "decor" attests to her daring feats with the kiddie scissors. It's more that she's not a lingerer. I actually have laboratory evidence for this hypothesis based on the year I spent "teaching" art in her classroom. She was pretty much in the top three finishers on every project. Rather than seeing it as impatience, I prefer to see it as conviction. She has no angst about her choices. She plunges ahead, consequences be damned. She knows when the stakes are low--something that I've never figured out.
But this time, I wanted to introduce her to MY way. I laboriously explained the need for multiple coats (you don't want patchiness!), checking your colors with the finished swatches, choosing sponges, Q-tips, toothpicks, etc. for "effects," and the importance of sketching in pencil first (it burns off!) She looked skeptical through all of this, but was polite. She had chosen a turtle; I, a mug. To humor me as much as anything, she took the pencil and drew on eyes, a mouth, and some shell art. I set to work researching "fruit images" on my phone.
"You're texting NOW?" she asked incredulously. No, more that I've realized the never-ending usefulness of my iPhone, which enables me to view not only images of fruit, but how to draw them. "How did you learn to draw like that?" she wondered. I'm really not very good. But fruit is my obsession, and I do my best. This time, I was expanding into citrus--a lemon and orange slice. Whoa, kind of crazy, I know. But I gotta branch out from pears, grapes and cherries in order to stay fresh.
So what it amounts to is, I was still drawing when she was done. Which I knew would happen. That's where the iPhone comes in again, to provide entertainment while I lost myself in filling in those impossibly tiny citrus cells, breathing into it, feeling like it's one of the few places where I'm not on the verge of a panic attack. I really need to do it every week--it's cheaper than therapy and, unlike drugs, the only side effect is a house full of fruit-covered plates and bowls. And there are worse things I could do.
As for Jarrah, I think she'd be willing to paint ceramics with me again. But only if I get her a second animal, or put more games on my phone.