Friday, July 4, 2008
My older son is nearly fifteen (four more days!). He's a nice kid: funny, popular, mostly responsible, great with little kids, smart. He's also fourteen/fifteen, so he's incredibly annoying: moody, addicted to "screentime" (which we/I limit, so we battle constantly), messy, forgetful, demanding, selfish. . . Well, I did say he's great with little kids. And he hasn't been arrested, fathered a child, or flunked a class. Yet.
A friend of ours called us to see if Elder would be willing to help at a carnival put on by the Rotary in Bar Harbor on the Fourth. They run a bunch of kids' games and activities: Elder said yes, and even convinced one of his friends, also spiny, spiky, funny, arrogant, smart, fun, good at heart, to help out as well. They set out at seven a.m.
At one pm, my beloved husband and I went to pick them up from their five hour shift in the baking hot sun at the ball field. They had been doing face painting--both are good artists. Both are tall. Both were scrunched down in teeny little plastic kiddie chairs as they painted tiny butterflies, flags, flowers, snails, smileys, and more on tiny little cheeks. I watched in delight, lump in my throat, as these two gigantic boys tucked tiny curls of white blonde hair behind pink ears, listened to whispered requests, dealt with kids whose heads whipped around and up and down--disaster for a face painter!
Time ticked on, the line stayed full, and neither boy wanted to tell anyone, "Sorry, we're closed!", so they kept painting for an extra forty-five minutes. . . and the best painting was the last. Two blonde boys, one probably 4 and one maybe six, arrived. Friend asked the first one, "What would you like?"
The kid whispered something, and Friend had to ask him to repeat it, which he did: "A beard. AND a moustache!"
Once his brother heard, he wanted to same, so Elder got to paint a set as well. Friend's moustache was pencil thin, like Jimmy Buffett's song, and connected to a hairline black beard that followed the little chin. Elder created a thick brown beauty complete with curly ends and finished the six year old off with a gingery soul patch underneath. Both little boys leapt out of their seats and ran to admire themselves in the mirror, mugging, grinning, scowling, yawning, giggling with the wonder of it all. Facial hair at last!
When the bearded boys and their laughing parents left, we helped clean up the booth and herded the artistes off for pizza and ice cream and some well-earned rest. Even now, however, I can see those big hands tilting small faces up to the light, gently moving ponytails, carefully creating leopard faces and pirate scars. They are so many different things all at once--I need to remember that my boy, any boy, any person, is not just one thing. And many of those facets are wonderful.