A year ago, on the night before you started kindergarten, I wrote you a letter.
In that letter I told you all sorts of truths and wishes and asked you a favor.
And that favor was:
I know you are going to be so rad tomorrow. I am not worried about you.
I am worried about them.
All the other children who will be your classmates and village and community for a long, long time.
You have your Mama's instinct and sensitivity, so you'll know who I am talking about, I just know it.
And I knew I could have faith in you.
You exemplify stewardship and have such a servant's heart.
When your classroom schedule came out this fall, you were disappointed with a capital D to learn you only have art once a week now, on Thursdays. As a kindergartner you had art three times a week which rocked your face off. We talked about the importance of balance and how as a first grader, your schedule is different. You're bigger, smarter, more capable. You accepted art would be a weekly treat, and you'd be happy to go to music and phy. ed. three times a week each. We pointed out places in your schedule where you could "freelance" art- during morning readiness, free time, Freedom Friday, and of course, at your rad after school program. So much time for art! And of course, Thursdays have quickly become The Best Day of the Week, Ever. Your favorite- just like mine!
I've mentioned before, but I have an antique dresser in a bedroom closet downstairs that solely houses your art projects, paintings, doodles, drawings, experiments, all your heart and soul on paper and various mediums. It's seriously jam-packed and you're just shy of seven. And the collection probably only represents 10% of your life's work. Parting with your artwork breaks my heart, it does. You have read me the riot act on disposing of your stuff for years! Often times, I feel like a Mexican drug lord trying smuggle construction paper and patterned ephemera into the recycling bin like they're drugs I'm trying to get into Texas. It's serious. It's on my Mama-resume, this highly felonious and never-ending task of deciding what stays, what goes. It doesn't help that I'm extremely OCD about order and an advocate for anti-hoarding. I tell you not to take it personal; you always take it personal. It's hard to not involve the heart in the matters of things you love.
That being said, art is arguably the most important thing to you. It goes without saying your people, faces, Village, Beagle are truly first. But art is a hair's width behind.
On Friday's at your after school program, they clean out the Art Cart. Sounds so simple, but it's an act you take very ceremoniously. Throughout the week, the kids are constantly creating projects and baubles and pieces on display that require ample time to dry, set, heal. There's a giant baker's rack that houses the week's art, and at closing time Friday, the kids stash it or trash it. And when I show to claim you, your first concern is A) have I interrupted the second installment of art leadership time (and I usually do, so I just find a chair in the corner & let you do your thing- I know better than to get between my girl and her art) and B) have you assessed your Art Cart slots yet?
Last week, when I went to find your purple unicorn backpack and striped fleece at pickup, I noticed a large trundle of stacked art projects by your things. I walked back to find you. You held up one finger to me to indicate you needed a minute and ran. You came back with the trundle of artwork under your arm, saying you were ready.
One of the program's staff commented, "Thanks again, Lil' Dude. You're a good friend, and I appreciate your help, and your friends will too."
I asked you what she meant- and you explained you noticed so many of your classmates were absent when they emptied the Art Cart, and it positively, 100% devastated you to see their hard work and creativity being subjected to the garbage. So you raised your hand time and time again to save piece after piece of glitter and gold and felt and Elmer's love for the people who were not there. Like a tiny soldier in the Monuments Men army, rescuing condemned art to return to its rightful owners.
Now, I'm used to my heart exploding with love and pride when it comes to you, so Friday was no different. You're making a difference each day, kid, in the lives of the people around you. I hope you know how good that feels, how natural it feels to think of others before you think of yourself.
Keep that shit up.