I’ll try to paint the scene as accurately as possible.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and one small Salonen child asked, “Mom, you know where any tape is?”
My motherly instincts should have kicked in at that outset. But, distracted by some other task, I let the moment pass without much fanfare. “No, not sure, Hon,” I said in full honesty. Tape disappears around this place as quickly as kids being summoned to do their chores. Last time I knew the whereabouts of a roll was in December during gift-wrapping time.
I didn’t think about the tape again, nor imagine what said child might have wanted it for, until hours later when avoidance was no longer possible. I walked into my office to find this upon the wall near my computer:
Aha! The tape. So that’s what he wanted it for.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and it is, and was, for me anyway. But in case anyone else should miss the messages here, I’ll spell them out for clarification sake:
1. The artist child responsible for this creation is one of many children, probably the youngest.
2. The child has watched his mother tape up, tack up and pin up many a creative piece fashioned by his siblings through the years.
3. The child wonders why the pictures he makes at Kids Kingdom or his Gearing Up for Kindergarten class are not displayed the minute they are deemed finished.
4. The mother in question cannot possibly keep up with all the pictures that deserve fair attention on the fridge and walls. She knows she’s been falling behind lately, because her youngest child asks, after completing a creation, “You gonna put it on the fridge now, Mom?”
5. This piece says something about the van in which the mother resides a large portion of her life; how it is filled with an unrelenting stream of mail, school papers, winter gear, and other paraphernalia that needs to be sorted through, and how easily any given piece of artwork can slip through the cracks.
6. The artist child is independent. He has learned this, in part, through living in a family of seven people. The rest is genetics. By nature, he’s the kind of person who will get the job done if someone else (Ahem!) falls behind.
7. The artist child wants to please his mother. Knowing this, his mother’s heart melts.
8. Even though the above scenario could be an example of failure, the mother treasures it for what it is. The moment she sees the haphazardly taped-up art, and considers the drastic measures her young child undertook to make sure it was displayed in a place she would see it, she considers it to be the most blessed moment of her week.
9. The mother is also rather in awe over how capable her youngest child is becoming. She wishes she could have been a fly on the wall as he carried out his Operation Picture Display.
10. The mother knows that someday her child won’t care as much whether his artwork is noticed and she’s intent on taking better advantage of this time when it still matters.
Well, that’s what I read, anyway.
And then, on Friday, our middle child had her science fair at her school gym. I’d written the event down on the calendar but promptly forgot to check my “to do” list that afternoon. At the appointed time, instead of being on the scene to view the results (she’d worked on her project at a friend’s house so I didn’t have a chance to see any phase of its creation), I was at home.
“So, Mom,” she said when I picked her up from school that day, “how come you never showed up?”
The only solace I can take from this is: 1) my daughter didn’t seem that disappointed I missed the science fair (I was more disappointed than she), 2) the school will repeat this display in May at a local college so I’ll get a second chance, and 3) at the time of the science fair, I was reading books to my youngest, as opposed to eating bon-bons and watching afternoon soaps.
That said, a new commitment to pinning up artwork sooner rather than later has been made (especially for the sake of my youngest). And on my calendar, the date and time of the second-chance science fair has been highlighted.
Thank the good Lord for second chances, forgiving children and one tenacious almost-5-year-old, who is not afraid to take the initiative when his mother lags behind in her motherly responsibilities.
Things do have a way of working out in the end, and Plan B’s can turn out to be perfectly acceptable solutions.