At pickup after school, thrusting (almost throwing) at me the plastic bag of canvas, brushes, and paint:
"Mom. I cannot believe you signed me up for PAINT NIGHT."
"Aw, come on. It'll be good for you."
"Why don't you ASK me before you sign me up for stuff?"
"You weren't home. Also, you would've said no. And it's one hour. And art is fun!"
Kids are not supposed to hate art. Art is supposed to be the free, happy, safe place where there's no such thing as a mistake, à la Ish and Beautiful Oops, right?
Alas: my kid is not only fiercely competitive, he's unforgiving with himself, and because art doesn't feel natural to him and his work hasn't been chosen for the art show since second grade and he doesn't always earn all 4s in art class, he's convinced that he's bad at it.
Over the years, I've crayoned in coloring books with him. Watercolored at the kitchen table with him. Markered on rocks with him. Emailed with his art teacher for ideas to spark his interest. Asked Santa to bring him a waterproof Olympus Tough camera and high-heavens-praised the still lifes of his stuffies. None of these seeds have taken root yet, but I'm not giving up hope. After all, Aunt Ellen is a Real Live Practicing Painter; Granddad as a boy used to trade his drawings of planes for Walter Hoggard's potato chips; Sean can build a tree house with his hands from a schematic in his head. There is art in this boy's genes, so he's not off the hook.
Ergo, Paint Night. A generous jewel of a Family Engagement idea from the Shared Decision-Making Committee of our very own Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School. A plastic bag of materials and an hourlong class taught via Google Meet by art teacher (and paragon of patience) Mr. Hiskox.
Did you know that Monet didn't clean his brushes very often? He liked to keep on painting right into and through the color blends. So you can achieve the gradient of a sunset sky, brushstroke-sweep from side to side, with just two colors.
And check this out: you can use the end of your paintbrush to carve a tree trunk right onto the horizon.
Art really IS fun. For the whole family!
Blue concurs. (He's smiling, can you see?)
Even Reed agreed in the end.
"Can we hang it, Mom?"
Bottomless thanks to all the teachers and administrators who've given themselves to our kids, heart and soul, this year and always.