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Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Refrigerator Door

It used to be our refrigerator door was almost impossible to view underneath layers of the boys' artwork and photographs. This memory was invoked when I glimpsed the back of Bridget's Beret by Tom Lichtenheld, one of my five favorites for the CLN event. Bridget's father is standing before the chilly gallery holding a milk carton, and he says, "Honey, have you seen the fridge? I can't find it!" We could always find the fridge, but some creations inevitably fell from the display when the door was opened or when a dump truck or Hot Wheels driver passed too closely.

Bridget is a lucky girl. Her family hangs many of her works on permanent exhibit. They provide her with numerous art supplies, including "a big black beret. The kind of hat that lots of Great Artists wear." Their actions and acceptance validate her art and creative process, acknowledging the pleasure she takes in painting (or chalk drawing). Parents, caregivers, and educators have that power with children. By demonstrating interest in a child's activities, we provide an impetus for the child to continue, to learn more, to perfect a skill, to indulge in a pleasure.

Bridget's cherished beret blows away in a strong breeze, causing her to lose the ability to draw. No borrowed hat can bring back her creative genius. Her wise little sister, however, begs her to make a sign for a lemonade stand. Despite Bridget's certainty that the beret was necessary, her simple lemonade stand signs become masterpieces, representing the styles of the Great Artists: a Swirly Lemonade sign in the image of Van Gogh's Starry Night, a soup can sign reminiscent of Andy Warhol, and so many others that the neighbors all turn out for the opening (and some lemonade, of course).

I may never be a good artist with paint, but I have learned to be a good photographer (the marzipan creatures were in a bakery case in London), a strong quilter, and an excellent culinary artist. All these skills were fostered by those who have loved me and encouraged me. Take time to encourage another in something he or she pursues. It makes such a difference in our collective lives.

By the way, over time, my boys were not eager to display their masterpieces in the kitchen gallery, preferring often to stuff them in folders or sneak them to the recycling bin in hopes I would not notice. I retrieved what I could, framed many for display in our home, and squirreled away others for them to view when they are older.


  1. And you don't have to be an expert in the field to encourage another's pursuit. Neither of my parents were artistically or literary-ly inclined, but they both always took the time to read every story I wrote and, like you, display my artwork at home (I was given free reign to decorate our basement door as if it was a school bulletin board display).

    I will attest that you are indeed skilled at quilting, taking photographs, and (yum!) especially baking!

    And the artwork from your sons that I've seen displayed at your home is beautiful!