It was late Friday afternoon, and by offering number two son the job of watering my potted plants with a watering can, had enticed the kids outside. Immediately there was bickering over who could water which pot, “he gets to do more than me!” accusations, and general discontent and whining. ARRGh! I tried all of the bargaining & appeasement (bribing?) tactics I could think of to calm everyone down, then made sure each had his share. The kids were still at each other, not quite resolved to do their own thing, and generally grouchy. In the meantime the light was getting warmer as the sun got lower in the sky, creating interesting shadows and colors on an ice plant covered rocky wall that fills up the back half of our yard.
I thought the best thing to do in the moment was to be present in the yard, hopefully adding a voice of reason and intercession to any disagreements that might arise. Tired of just being a referee, though, I thought I’d bring a project for myself outside. I grabbed a stack of tea-dyed paper left over from some other time, a watercolor pad to use as a drawing board, and a small box of drawing supplies. Taking these to the yard, I sat in a chair and started to draw. I was interested in trying to capture the soft shapes and textures that the succulent plants made as they covered the wall, rocks, and dirt up the hill.
Little Mr. M was immediately interested in what I was doing, and asked if he could draw too. I agreed, put the supplies on the cement patio, and we began to work side by side. Little T couldn’t resist either, and soon was on the ground right next to us, his own paper and pastel pencil in hand. M tells me, “I’m drawing California, where we live now, right here. You see this part?” And he vigorously scribbles across most of the paper. T for his part, draws for a bit, then busies himself with exploring the contents of the supply box. It isn’t long before big brother L wants to join the activity. “Can I draw too? What’s this? Charcoal? Can I try a piece of that?” Within minutes all of the attention was happily focused on the individual pieces of paper, the testing of various drawing tools, and the pictures that each of us drew. In the moment when I realized that all of us, myself especially, were content, happily sharing the in same creative spirit, I smiled to myself. Then I ran to get the camera.