Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Dangers of Pencils

Fate has dealt me a hand of two artistic kids. They love to draw and are pretty decent at it which is further evidence that I am not their real mother. They'll draw on anything but are especially enticed by interesting looking paper. They crowd around available paper like other kids would the Tickle-Me Elmo display during the 2000 Christmas season. There have been small fights and struggles over the custody of particularly long grocery store receipts, the clean white back of which might inspire a really long comic strip. This hoarding of paper products has continued despite the fact that we have reams upon reams of computer paper. Apparently, the receipt paper heralds formerly unconsidered possibilities.

The quantity of drawings my children produce results in primal screams from entire forests when one of them picks up a pencil. To my youngest, drawing is like playing with toys. She draws a scene, interacts with it (complete with sound effects) and then draws subsequent scenes. Inevitably, the final scene involves some kind of explosion.

My oldest is thirteen and loves to draw her typical teen attitude in picture form. All of the things she might be afraid to say aloud are pumped into drawings of surly teens insulting the casual observer. Born an animal lover, she used to draw puppies and horses but now draws a variety of mythical creatures including and especially fire-breathing dragons. Symbolic? She's 13.

While these kids can depict a variety of life-like objects on paper in recognizable form, they cannot legibly scrawl out their names. The irony of this is not spared on me, who can't draw anything except stick figures, but can manage legible handwriting. My next-door-neighbor whose kids are artistic has said the same of her children.

I am still amazed by some of the pictures thrust in front of me by my progeny considering that I can't really draw except through a long process of deliberate copying involving an overhead projector and a mound of tracing paper. I can craft, sure, but that's not art. While my kids seem artistic, I guess that makes me craftastic.

I have heard that these kinds of kids might be more visual-spatial in how they think about the world and that this trait is often shared by related children. It could be true. However, I concur with another of my neighbor's statements about her artistic kids -- they were born with pencils in their hands. That would certainly have explained the c-sections.

They have said that every decision it is possible to make could spawn an entire universe -- that every decision has been made in some alternate universe. Peanut Butter Captain Crunch or Frankenberry? Poof, an extra universe in which my tastebuds actually prefer the Frankenberry splits off from this one and all of the decisions I make in that universe are based upon my berry over peanut butter preference. Maybe, in that universe, I would have bought the Thunderbird instead of the Monza (yeah, I know) as my first car.

What if this alternate universe theory also involves drawings? What if every drawing spawns an entire universe revolving around that drawing? Then are whole societies born on the premise of merhorses or orange people with elastic tentacles erupting from their heads; entire social and political systems which revolve around the conflicts between giant sentient robotic forms of kelp and dinosaur-like insects? Does that make us the absurd form of some child's imagination that was looked upon by some mother who chuckled at her child's drawing and then stuck it up on her refrigerator?

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