Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Chalk of the Town

In the spring of 2010, I bought a box of Crayola sidewalk chalk.  I pulled each of the 16 vibrant colors from the box and envisioned the masterpieces Cael and I would create together.  "Waterlilies"?  No problem.  "The Mona Lisa"?  Easy.  I smiled as I thought of our hands making art in unison as the sun warmed our shoulders. 


In reality, however, the experience was much less romantic.  Not only was I the only one drawing anything, but Cael found the most pleasure in throwing the chalk down with full force on the driveway and watching the pieces shatter.  After about 20 minutes of utter destruction and very little inspiration, I packed away the remaining nubs of chalk and placed them on a shelf in the garage.

And there they sat.

I walked by them repeatedly over the last year, thinking and wondering if Cael had matured enough to give it another try, then laughing at myself for using Cael's name in the same sentence as the word "mature".  But with Bampa's arrival coinciding with a streak of amazingly dry, sunny and beautiful weather, I took a chance.


Shortly before dinner on Friday, I pulled out the chalk and let my kids loose on the driveway, crossing my fingers and desperately hoping this would be a success and provide me with another go-to activity to entertain the boys.

Graham jumped right in and started drawing.


In typical Cael fashion, my eldest demanded that I provide a train for him, given this gigantic canvas and no way of using my typical restaurant excuse, "I'll draw a train after we order."  And then... "I'll draw a train when the food comes."  Or... "I'll draw a train after you've eaten". 

But I thought it was only fair that he participate.  Ever since we bought him his John Deere Gator to drive around the backyard, he has lost all interest in running and jumping and doing the things that little kids should do, save for playing baseball. 

Today we were on the same team, however, and the game was "who will draw a train first", so I informed him that I would not draw his train until he produced one first.

"There."


I looked down at what looked like nothing more than three chicken scratches of pink and purple on the concrete.  Was that really it?  I couldn't comment more precisely on his creation because I didn't know if I was looking at a train or a to-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty.  As any mom knows, however, the time you question their artwork will undoubtedly be the time they put their heart and soul into their creation, so I let the little man off the hook and drew his train.


While Cael took his position as engineer of the Cael Express, I turned my attention to Graham, who was causing Daddy and Bampa some grief as he stealthily sneaked around the corner into the backyard, and into the garage and up to the front door.  His tiny feet make almost no sound, and in contrast to Cael's ear-drum piercing train whistles, it is easy for Graham to slip away unnoticed.  This time I caught his eye and motioned for him to help me load the chalk back into the box.  I could sense an approaching cadence to our evening and began the clean up process when Graham got tickled by the sight of two pieces of chalk standing erect next to each other like soldiers standing guard over the kingdom of Crayola.



So I continued to build until we'd constructed our own Chalk-Henge monument; a spiritual place where children can draw freely on the driveway without fear of persecution and time-outs.  Some even say that when the light shines perfectly between the westernmost chalk pillars, the universe is in perfect alignment and two year-olds will poop on the potty.  Then again, a lot of skeptics think it's just chalk.  Only time will tell.

We quickly cleaned up and went inside for dinner, and I mentally draw a strike through "play with chalk" from the next day's activities.  In the backyard the following afternoon, Daddy and Bampa were knee-deep in a nostalgic game of catch when the kids woke up and wanted to participate.  We pulled out the bats and balls and Cael was just beginning to practice his surprisingly powerful and accurate batting skills when Graham spotted something .



"Chaw!  Chaw!"

An abandoned piece of chalk.  A sign that I shouldn't give up so soon on chalk art, perhaps?  A piece from the ruins of Chalk-Henge?  (Oh, the humanity!)  Wherever it came from, Graham spotted it and immediately wanted another shot at that box of colorful sticks.


So on Saturday afternoon, I pulled out the chalk and let my kids loose on the back patio, crossing my fingers and desperately hoping this would be a success and provide me with another go-to activity to entertain the boys.

Graham jumped right in and started drawing.


In typical Cael fashion, my eldest demanded that I provide a train for him, given this gigantic canvas and no way of using my typical restaurant excuse, "I'll draw a train after we order."  And then... "I'll draw a train when the food comes."  Or... "I'll draw a train after you've eaten".

But I thought it was only fair that he participate.  Knowing that baseball was an alternative option that would likely be more appealing than chalk, I knew it was a long shot, but I informed him that I would not draw his train until he produced one first. 

"There."


I glanced down at what looked like peachy colored worms on the concrete.  Was that really it?  I couldn't comment more precisely on his creation because I didn't know if I was looking at a train or botched crop-circle blueprints.  As any mom knows, however, the time you question their artwork will undoubtedly be the time they put their heart and soul into their creation, so I let the little man off the hook and drew his train.














While Cael took his position as engineer of the Cael Express, Graham decided to participate and tweak the train to his specifications.  I guess he thought there should be more pink.  He's a real man.






When history again began to repeat itself and Graham stood the chalk pillars up in formation, Cael came along and attempted to stomp on each column and crumble them ala the Coliseum.  Graham wailed in protest and I quickly gathered the chalk stumps into the box and hustled them away while I cradled them in my arms. 

I'm sorry, Crayola!  Maybe next year we can try again.  Your fragility is too great for my Greco-Roman wrestler children!

But as soon as the boys saw that I had abandoned hopes of our artistic potential, they both protested with all their might.  Graham unleashed a tirade of angry faces and threatening gestures, made more frightening by the exposure of his tiny tummy.


Cael took the more passive-aggressive approach and sat quietly on the grass until I realized he was taking his shoes off, likely preparing a full-on sandal attack.


I managed to intercept his missiles and safely stashed the chalk in the house.  After some peace talks, we all decided that, while we love to run, play and create, chalk may just not be our medium.  For now I'll stick to play-doh and crayons.  At least I won't have to make a train.

"Mommy, can you draw me....?"

Uh, fizzling fireboxes!


Did you like this post?  Please support me and VOTE in the Parents Magazine Best Blog Awards!

4 comments:

  1. First, your train was awesome :-)

    Second, that last picture made me LOL!

    Shawna

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks! I've had a lot of practice. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the train you drew! And Crayola chalks are so much fun.Until the kids decide to join in!

    Can't wait for my 1 year old to get in on the action!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Pavi- We had a good time, and I do think that they boys will get better with the chalk when they develop a little more patience! Glad you liked the train... I've had a lot of practice!

    ReplyDelete

Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.