Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Three heroines and a dinosaur scared poopless

I have been blessed with children who like to write and create.

Joseph will not admit to being a “writer,” but the lyrics to some of the songs he helps create never cease to amaze me.

Jaynee loves to draw and paint and sing. To the right is a painting she created in preschool. I don't know what it is, but I liked it, so I kept it. It's bright, thought-provoking and refreshing.

Justine is a thinker. She is timid, shy, embarrassed to express any of her thoughts or ideas, and when she does, she always thinks they are silly. She inherited my brain.

I have to constantly encourage her to speak her mind, showcase her ideas, be her own person. As “the baby,” she lives in Jaynee’s shadow, always viewing big sister’s ideas as better, or worse yet, “right.”

Jaynee creates something almost on a daily basis. Whether it be a greeting card, a letter, a poster or a song, her mind continuously creates, and she is good about recording those thoughts and bringing them to life. She hurries her projects, though, wanting to get them out of her mind and into the public eye.

Some exude perfection. Some need work, but she is not one bit embarrassed of any of her creations. She is a freethinker and is open to constructive criticism. If I make a suggestion regarding one of her concepts, she always works hard to improve it or make it more appealing with never a mention of how she thought it should look in the first place. She constantly seeks to please others.

Justine works to improve her personal bests and wants everything to appear perfect before anyone else views it. She is an introvert and generally is leery of stepping out of the box.

She colors in the lines drawn in her color books neater than any child I’ve ever seen. She carves out perfect letters in her penmanship practice. She is a brilliant speller. She takes her time with everything; even eating a meal is a process with her. She always is the last one at the table.

Everything she does, she does internally, privately, and she rarely reveals her visions. She draws, but generally produces family portraits consisting of stick-like figures. She sometimes provides narration, like “this is our family going to church” or “this is me, Jaynee and Bub eating apples.” That’s about as far as it goes.

It was hard for me when I was younger to share my ideas. I still struggle with speaking up. I don’t mind chiming in on a conversation when I am comfortable with the audience and the topic of discussion. Offering a unique idea or perspective, however, is excruciatingly painful sometimes.

Amongst my friends, it wasn’t so bad when I was in school, but to speak up in a crowd I did not know well took every ounce of courage I could muster. Generally, I would think so long and so hard about what I wanted to say, by the time I had a chance to say it, it would be too late. I have missed many an opportunity because I feared embarrassment, rejection, persecution.

Justine is the same way. So, the other day, when she brought home a poster and story she made at school I was so excited to take a look.

I immediately loved the title, “T. Rex Down Town.”

On first glance, I smiled as I reviewed her depiction of a dinosaur that seemed to be playing nice with three young girls with cute hearts on their shirts.

I loved the opening line. It was standard yet had a flare of its own: “Once upon a time a dinosaur was down town.”

My dinosaur stories never took place downtown.

I read on: “He came by airplane. His name was Tylar.”

Tylar the T. Rex – I loved it! And Tylar arrived by airplane – how original.

“But then Tylar chases everyone,” the story said. Uh oh, Tylar is a naughty dinosaur, similar to Clifford the Big Red Dog, maybe?

“Then Jeana comes in and destroys him by her self.” Jeana is a cute little blondie in Justine’s class. I thought to myself, “Good for Justine. She is illustrating ‘Woman Power!’”

“Jeana killed the T. Rex” was the next line. What? My sweet little Justine has made sweet little Jeana a mean killer now.

I didn’t know if I liked that line, but the ending made up for it: “She got a medle from the mayor. She was the best. The end.”

I decided the story was magnificent, even with the brutal killing of Tylar. At least Justine had created something on her own, thought out her storyline and even drew a fine depiction of her tale. I was so pleased and impressed.

I complimented her on her penmanship and started scanning her artwork. Tylar apparently wreaked havoc on down town. Houses were burning, and a large fire raged on the outskirts of the city, just near the three girls with hearts on their shirts.

I started sizing up Tylar. He was green and drawn very well. He didn’t quite look like a treacherous T. Rex, but he was a bit intimidating. He was no match for Jeana, however. She kept a prideful smile on her face as she held Tylar at bay with a long and mighty sword. All three of the girls, in fact, smiled enthusiastically as Jeana fought Tylar off to save the city.

Tylar must have been shaking in his scales as he met these three heroines face-to-face.

As I looked over and contemplated the details of the picture, I realized Justine actually had depicted just how terrified Tylar was as he met his demise in that smoldering down town village. His fear was spewing out his backside! I looked again. Was that what I thought it was?

My eyes stopped, fixed on the brown Crayon streak flowing from Tylar’s bottom. It was subtle. I had not noticed it on first glance. I was dumbfounded, to say the least. Surely some dirty boy had gotten a hold of my darling daughter’s creation and marred it with this desecration! My sweet angel would never depict … well, poop!

How wrong a mother can be. It was all Justine’s doing – every thought, every letter, right down to the killing and the defecation. Disturbing, yes, but I have to admit, it was original.

I tried to act a bit put off by the poop, but after she left the room, I couldn’t help but giggle. Apparently, Justine has a bit of a rebellious side in that little mind of hers.

Just in case, maybe I’ll cut back a little on encouraging her to express her thoughts and emotions so much. If Tylar the T. Rex is the first remnant of what her creativity can unleash in the first grade, who knows what kinds of stories she will create in the next few years.

I joke, but I would never stifle her imagination. If it’s poop she draws, then I guess it is poop we will get. Powerful women and a dinosaur scared poopless is a theme I can hardly discourage.

Besides, poop has made plenty of people successful. Take the toilet, for instance, waste treatment centers, outhouses, cesspools, even toilet paper.

Like they say, it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. Not sure why it has to be my kid, but I guess a poop drawer beats a pooper scooper. I’ll take what I can get. At least she’s opening up … or at least getting her drawings to open up, so to speak. Yes, that pun was completely intended.

Readings for today:

Matthew 20:1-16
Acts 27:1-26
Psalm 44
Leviticus 18-20

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