In school, our older son, Chris, was always bright, especially in math and science, but when it came to the more artistic endeavors, he suffered from a combination of too much creativity and too little patience. By too much creativity I mean that he often took the art assignment a step beyond what the teacher suggested, which usually led to a mess.
For instance, in Mrs. Gollersrud's second grade class the children got a chance to work in clay. They rolled out a piece of clay, cut it into a square, pressed leaves and flowers into the clay, painted over the entire square, pulled off the leaves and flowers, which left a beautiful unpainted design. They glazed it and fired it, and it became a beautiful plaque to take home for Mom, for Mother's Day.
When Chris heard the assignment, he thought to himself how much better it would be to turn this project into a puzzle for Mom! So after rolling, cutting, pressing, painting and glazing, he took a butter knife and cut the plaque into little "puzzle" pieces. Mrs. G, never one to stifle a child's creativity, took his little pieces, along with all of the other kids' plaques, and fired them.
The Friday before Mother's Day, Chris came home from school with a tissue-paper-wrapped bundle. When I opened it I was at a loss for words. There were about 20 little curled up chunks of fired clay. I said "thank you," but I didn't have a clue what these little pieces were. Remembering my "Art for Elementary Teachers" training, I knew better than to ask, "What is it?" Instead I said, as I had been trained, "Chris, tell me about it!"
"It's a puzzle, Mom!" he said. He and I tried to put the puzzle together, but it was sort of like trying to put a bunch of odd-shaped rocks together to make a picture.
I had to wait three years, until Tim had his turn in Mrs. G's second grade classroom, to see what the project was meant to be. Here's the pretty little plaque, which I still have and love, that Tim brought home the Friday before Mother's Day, 1984.
By then, Chris was in Mr. Hale's fifth grade class, and had another chance to try his hand at a clay project. This time the kids were to make a flower vase for their mothers. Here's the delicate little vase that Chris brought home for me that year. I loved it then, and I still do, because it so reflects our 11-year-old-Chris' personality.
This vase has had a home on every desk I've worked at since 1984, when Chris brought it home. I use it to hold pens and pencils, which seems a more suitable purpose than holding flowers.