I took my sketchbook out to the Bridge Meadows courtyard on Saturday and was soon surround by a small group of kids. We had a spontaneous drawing party. I’d brought my twistable Crayola colored pencils and we were all drawing flowers.
A little speck of red started skittering across my paper. At first I thought it was a pencil crumb blowing in the wind, but then I realized it was a spider mite. I pointed it out to the kids and they were all fascinated, except one little girl, who panicked and squished it with the side of her pencil. It was so tiny, it didn’t even leave a mark.
A seven year old boy got very upset. “That spider was just going along, minding his own business and having a good time and she just killed it. She killed it! He didn’t deserve it.”
He went on and on — I thought he was going to cry. He also seemed to want to torment the girl. I told him that some people are afraid of bugs. The girl thought the spider was dangerous and some are. And there’s no use in making her feel worse about it. Everything’s fine and the spider is in spider heaven.
His eyes got wide and he wailed, “I wish I was in spider heaven!”
“I want to live in spider heaven!”
I told him that we didn’t want him to live in spider heaven, we wanted him here in the neighborhood with us and that we’d all be very sad if he left.
“Oh,” he said and went back to coloring. Soon he was singing a little song. And the girl was fine, too.
Brief theology discussions with my new young friends pop up quite often. The kids are all somewhat worried that some disaster is going to befall them. Most of them have had fractured lives and they’ve witnessed violence. Plus they get a lot of mixed messages from film and video games.
The thing I love most about helping them with art and stories is that after an acknowledgement of fear, we can imagine anything we want. We can play with color. He drew a picture of his cousin and him watering flowers in big pots. “We really did that. We grew flowers” He ran off with the picture to give to his mom.
I drew spider heaven.
|Ink and watercolor pencil|