Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Next Step

Learning to walk. A new tooth. Jumping. Talking. Drawing and writing. It's easy to think that once a kid turns five, there isn't much left to learn except details. But there's always something to learn.

John's drawings have consisted of one or two figures with long necks and staring eyes. Each hand has three fingers, like a bird claw, and the people have no feet. He's been an indifferent drawer, preferring to either color or write something. The other day he came to me with his first journal entry: "Wns my dad sid pop." Translation: "Once, my dad said poop."

John took a big step into a larger world of art the other day. I was doing some editing and he was drawing at the table on a piece of white construction paper. Then he ran to me to show me one of the most amazing battle scenes I've ever seen.

The paper is filled with figures, all marching to the left. There are six trucks -- three of them have frowning faces, two have long guns -- "tank guns" -- extending from the cabs. There is a tank, and airplane, a man on foot, and a mechanized horse.

"Wow!" I said. "Tell me about your picture."

Usually, this request is greeted with one or two sentences. But with his newfound artistry came a newfound pride in accomplishment.

"These are 'Merican soldiers marching off to fight the Nazis. These trucks here have tank guns and you can see this guy is carrying the 'Merican flag. This tank takes TEN PEOPLE to drive and I'M THE DRIVER. Right here. This is a machine horse and it never gets tired and it's on WHEELS. All of these are moving really, really fast, which is why there's fire coming out of ALL of them. Which one would you like to be?"

I was stunned. It's quite a picture.

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