b ~ Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter

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Last Friday I was upstairs talking with a coworker about weekend
plans, when our conversation drifted to writing reviews. Each of us
needed to spend some time over the next few days writing about the
books we’d recently read. I confessed my hatred of the blank page. In
an attempt to spur me on and be supportive, she told me some well-used
but sage advice. Write anything she said, write “I hate the blank

When I made my way back down to the Children’s room I discovered that
one of my families had started making the take-away craft. In an
homage to April showers the kids were given the supplies to make a
raincloud mobile. On the tables I had placed piles of cardstock with
the outline of a cloud and several raindrops that were meant to be
colored a variety of hues. This little boy seemed to be having some
difficulty and I thought it might be because I had put out the crayons
instead of the markers. I find that the preschoolers aren’t used to
applying as much pressure as the crayon requires. After a bit the mom
stumbled onto the idea that her son was a little overwhelmed with the
blank raindrops– somehow the color choices seemed vast and limitless.
They hit upon a solution whereby they would decide on a color for
each, she would swipe the raindrops, then he would match the crayon
and finish coloring. Genius!

I am no longer asked to help with coloring or setting up Thomas
traintracks or even to offer assistance with homework. Instead it’s:
“Can you pick a card and watch me do this trick?” Or ‘Help me find a
shirt to match this suit.” “Which tie looks best?” And the ever
present, “When will I be able to sit in the driver’s seat?’ In some
ways though, I am still setting up boundaries; helping to steer him
through the vast array of choices that adolescents are still unclear
how to navigate.  But as he gets older he needs less from me or at
least in the ways to which I have adapted. Now it’s “Watch this
juggling trick, can you be my audience?” I would not be surprised if
after time spent scouring the internet he would want to try and saw me
in half. I’d like to think I’d be game for that, with a wide smile
plastered on my face.

Gone are the days of class projects and trick or treating. Maybe as
time goes on he’ll want me to offer my services in a haunted house,
ala “Modern Family.” I have no problem putting on a costume pretending
to be ghoulish. Or poking my head out from a hole cut into the table,
fake blood spattered all around. Maybe I’ll have a wig, with wild
frizzy hair; or perhaps I will be bald– who’s to say? I won’t be in
charge of costuming, I’ll happily wear whatever I’ve been handed. If
you should happen to go through such a house on a warm Halloween
evening, don’t worry. I’m not the type to sneakily put out a hand and
brush your shoulder to make you jump out of your skin. I’ll do my best
to play the part that’s been asked of me. But if I happen to catch
your eye, I’ll most likely give you a little wink, happy to be helping

I’ll be honest, it’s been awhile since I’ve needed my own stage
make-up and costuming. My high school days playing roles on stage feel
like another dreamlike world that I used to inhabit. But T is right in
the thick of it. He’s getting ready to perform in the school musical
and rehearsals have started for the play being performed sometime
after that. His life is all about entrances and exits, dance steps and
dialogue, cues and curtain calls. Pile on top of that all of the
homework and the looming threat of finals and it’s a little tense at
our house right now. That might be a bit of an understatement. But
he’s holding his own, somehow balancing it all. No matter what else is
swirling around him, when it comes to his time on stage he is daring
and confident. When he was little and tentative, a toddler taking baby
steps, I helped with boundaries and structure. Now he’ll gladly forge
ahead. He’ll wear a ballerina skirt on TuTu Tuesday at camp. He’ll sit
still while someone applies wild Joker facepaint or adorn elaborate
costumes for Halloween; whatever it takes to relay a feeling, certain
emotions or atmosphere to his audience. I almost envy his fearlessness
and confidence. At this moment my eyes glance on these words
scotchtaped to the wall above my make-shift writing desk and I know
that this is true. “You can make anything by writing.” — C.S. Lewis.
Now I see that the blankness is just a canvas waiting. Waiting for the
swipe of a crayon, the dab of facepaint or the mark of a pen to make
it into something new.

About andi

Writer, editor, wrangler of small boys and dogs.

One comment

  1. Almost nothing is a terrifying–and exhilarating–as a bald page. Except being sawn in half by your teenaged son, of course…

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