I remember the first time my oldest drew a shaky circle with stick arms, no mouth, giant pupil-less eyes, and declared, “Mommy, this is you!” Instant tears. I hung it over my desk and for months went mushy at the sight of it.
Over the last decade, my three Picassos created a mountain of mommy crayon portraits. Sometimes I’m super tall with long hair, sparkly earrings and a crown. Other times I have eyelashes like bear claws and hands the size of pie plates. And once, I was bald with legs coming out of my neck and a mile-wide smile.
I’m flattered, but also a little immune. Nowadays, after a quick kiss, I store these crayon portraits in whatever is handy. I file them in my checkbook, fold them in my wallet, stash them in my mini-van door and stuff them in my laptop bag. They’re precious but plentiful, like wildflowers in July or snowflakes in December.
Last week, I took my youngest to the Laundromat to wash quilts. She quickly charmed the older woman running the counter, snagging a free donut and a stool to sit on. While I read the paper, she drew the Laundromat with color commentary.
“Mama, these are the machines…Mama, this is you and me wearing high heels…Mama, this is the donut with pink frosting…Mama, this is the Donut Grandma who gave me the donut…”
On and on she went, while I nodded absentmindedly. Finally, she finished and declared she wanted the Donut Grandma to keep it. So I took her to the counter.
The woman listened intently while my daughter highlighted the finer details and then pointed out the crayon-version of the lady herself. The woman’s eyes got big and glossy. She hugged my daughter and immediately stored it in her car so “no one would take it”.
This thrilled my daughter and humbled me. Being the subject of a kid’s artwork is an honor—a touching combination of unintentional humor and candid love. I knew this when I was just a circle with sightless eyes and it was good to remember it again.
This column first appeared in 2008 on MichiganMoms.com, a now defunct Gannett website.