More on artmaking

Untitled (A campfire for bears at the south pole), Beren, age 5
Pencil and pencil shavings on paper, December 2015

Each month Beren anticipates a new issue of Ranger Rick Jr. The children's wildlife magazine uncannily arrives on a Tuesday, just in time for me to slip out for my kung fu class.

Jared looks forward to it's arrival for that reason. The distraction is less important these days as Beren less frequently implores me, "Stay, Momma. Stay." My heartstrings would play sad note, but I'd leave nevertheless. The internal, somber tune plays as I drive past the front of our house. Last year, I'd see Jared occupying Beren, keeping him distracted from my departure.

More recently, Jared would remind me as I kissed them goodbye, "Now, Momma, remember to look at the window." They'd wave from the brightly lit window, Beren smiling. I'd roll down the window and honk. Down the road, the farewell song would dissipate in the whir of the car's transmission as I sped along county roads highway-wards.

In my absence, Jared and Beren read Ranger Rick Jr. straight through. Often, Beren asks to read the narrative feature, "Ricky and Pals", first. Father and son discuss the animals, correct any mistakes in infrequent references to flora [a couple weeks ago Beren asked me to mail the letter he and Jared wrote to Ranger Rick Jr. explaining that they were incorrect in saying that pine was inedible], complete puzzles, and look for Sammy Skunk hidden in the pages.

Beren enjoys "Ricky's Mail", a page towards the end of the magazine that features drawings by young readers. "Lemon shark" by Helen, age 4. "Penguin" by Antonio, age 5.

Lately, when Beren and I reread Ranger Rick Jr. issues, I no longer mention the children's ages lest Beren think he needs to make line drawings of bald eagles, zebras, or warthogs using his Crayolas. I'd rather he not. He seems pleased with his artistic endeavors which include working with various materials and color. Age and skill appropriate, I'd say.

At about age 3, Beren had an artistic crisis. "I make mess art," he moaned deprecatingly. I was shocked and dismayed. Did he expect to make lifelike graphite renderings of cheetahs and fire trucks? Where was this coming from?

I decided this funk needed a remedy. I pulled out lots of art supplies from college. Dr. Marten's watercolors (I thought Dr. Martens only made boots for punks before I found these). The little glass bottles are lovely objects themselves. Colored pencils and a sharpener. Modge Podge. We made mess art.

We still make mess art, though neither of us call it that. Since I hold a degree in (mess) art, I'm hoping we can hold off on drawing lollipop trees. Instead, I'd like to let our hands and color roam freely across the page like lions on the savannah.