Tweet, tweet!

Once upon a time, during the season of a taut tummy and tightly wound visions of my future life, in the motherhood portion it was plainly expected I would be the ever-discerning mom who daily blended class and culture into her {two} children's lives. They would be {well-dressed} sponges, with people far and near commenting on my charming little offspring's capacity to recognize the finer things in life, while still, of course, being completely humble. {NOT appearing in my visions were any shirts/undergarments/shoes/shorts/winter caps which had any vestige of tacky characters emblazoned/screen printed on their surface. No, no, no...not MY children. Not EVER.}

{The aftermath of yesterday's back-to-school shoe shopping at Target}

Fast forward fifteen years. A drooping pouch has replaced the taut tummy (with no plans of stretching back out) and the only visions swirling in the old noggin are ones projecting the glass of wine on the front porch with the crickets after the {five} children have uttered their last "But mom!" of the day and succumbed to blissful slumber. And also, see above picture.

Several months ago one of my dearest friends invited my daughters and I to join her and her's to a mother/daughter art class held in the studio of a talented local artist. Immediately, doubt waved it's yellow flag (the thought of us in an art class akin to John Wayne in a Tea Room), but my failure to fulfill my once-vision of daily intros of class and culture into my offspring' life experiences shouted over the doubt and I proudly put it on the calendar. Art Studio. 6:30pm. My paper calendar never looked classier. I left it open in hopes someone would take note of our refined plans.

On the night of our foray into the world of creative expression, we loaded up into the dirty Sienna, paint smocks on our laps and brushes on the brain. I gave the usual "best manners" spiel (always warmly received) and pleaded with them to use their soft voices, listening ears and watchful eyes. We were going to LEARN ART and to learn in such a setting, one must be still and slow, the utterance of two words of which constituted a lesson in foreign language to my children.

We met up with my friend Jen and her adorable daughter Gracie and then found our seats, three in a row, on a table right up front. We weren't going to miss a thing! We donned our smocks, feeling artsy fartsy and fancy schmancy. I used to love watching Bob Moss gently guide his viewers through an emerging pastoral scene with a brush and now, I was holding out hope that my girls would come alive painting happy little trees on a canvas.

We started strong. The paper plate with small squirts of paint making a circular rainbow laid in front of us, along with a cup of water, paint brush and blank canvas. The gentle voice of the talented artist opened up the session with a few guidelines ("IF you need a little extra paint, there are bottles on the table over to the left...but please use sparingly"), a kind offering of refreshments ("Moms, there is a pitcher of Sangria on the table to the right, help yourself whenever!) and then got us started with a focal point and a few happy little trees. I was pleased to note my girls were listening with what appeared to be interest on their faces. Maybe we had a little bit of refined tastes deep inside after all! I sat up a little straighter at the thought of fitting in with the crowd.


By step four, my youngest had darted from her seat with her paper plate palate. I arose from the depths of creating my acrylic riverbed to find her squirting large plops of replacement paint. I shot up from my chair, whispering forcefully that this was way too much paint, way too soon. I looked around at the adorable mother-daughter duo's quietly concentrating on their canvases. Would they notice if I were the first to visit the Sangria table? Or judge my two-fisted helpings? My, those cups looked small.

The oldest daughter, true to form, was carefully following instruction the entire course of the class. The youngest daughter had four suns in her sky and by the end was blending Heaven and Earth into one large brown blob. Just as she was doing this, The Artist/Teacher came by to offer encouragement on our work

The Artist: Wow, this is cool. Tell me what's happening here {spoken to youngest daughter}?
Me: Armageddon, I think. {Filling for mute middle daughter's lack of response}.
The Artist: I like it! We all have different ways of expressing art, right mom?
Me: Of course, of course! It's lovely. I think abstract is her genre.

She made a benevolent remark about my clearly amateur attempts. I was secretly pleased that my oldest daughter was next, and had created an age-appropriate masterpiece. Surely she would win the night for us. All my hopes were pinned on her. Breath held.

The Artist: You did a great job with this! {to the eldest}. I really like the way you painted the birds flying in the sky.
The Eldest Daughter: Tweet! Tweet! {arms flapping in tune with tweets}

Me:  {Wait. Did she just TWEET? and...FLAP?}

The Artist: Haha! What is YOUR favorite part of the painting?
The Eldest Daughter: Tweet! Tweet! {arms flapping in tune with tweets. again}

Me: {Oh.My.Gosh. WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY CHILDREN???? Stay calm. You've already inserted your insecure commenting enough. Surely she will start answering normally now. Kick her leg under the table.}

The Artist: Well, I think you did a fabulous job. Did you have fun tonight?
The Eldest Daughter: TWEET! TWEET! {louder and arms flapping faster}.
Me: {nervous chuckle} Ah, well...apparently the bird's got her tongue! We DID love tonight. What a fabulous class! {and don't worry, you'll never see the likes of us again. We are art frauds, this is not a world in which we belong. We'll head back to the zoo here soon.}

The humiliation was too much. The clarity of our situation was glaring and so I side-hugged my darling Jen and her sweet Gracie, thanked The Artist and made a beeline for the door, the abstract paint-thief and the compulsive tweeter following close behind.

I loaded the three wet canvases int0 the trunk and made myself calm down before addressing my dear eldest daughter.

"Girls. That was something wasn't it?", I said as I put the key in the ignition. "What did you think?"


"Ok. So maybe art isn't our thing. We'll stick to mud pies and tire swings. I hope you remember this forever, because we won't be doing it again.  And Annie? Sweetheart. Really. When an adult or anyone, actually, speaks to you, or asks you a question, making an animal noise in response just really makes a situation feel...very awkward. People don't know how to reply to tweets. It's honestly just plain weird and please don't ever do it again."

This week I read on Sarah Bessy's Facebook page a very true statement:

"Parenting: Where "I-Will-Never" Goes to Die"

I would humbly add to that

"Parenting: Where "I-Will-Never" and "My-Child-Would-Never" Goes to Die"

There are moments in time when you have to applaud yourself for trying, accept that something is just not "the thing" for your crew and even if it is for one of your members, children have a marvelous way of keeping those in charge of them consistently humble. At least mine do, and I'm pretty darn sure it's because once upon a time (thirty-some years ago) a woman they call mamaw often & earnestly turned her face towards the heavens and beseeched the good Lord to someday "give her one just like her". And so the good Lord did and all I can think to say is....

Tweet. Tweet. 



Sarah Gingrich said…
HAHAHA! Oh Jeane, this is great.
Christina Garland said…
Ba ha ha! I can totally relate! Kudos to you for at least trying the class!
Shawna said…
Absolutely love this, Jeane! Thanks for the chuckle!
The "happy little trees"!! I remember them, too. :) And your tweeting daughter - oh my. What in the world goes through our children's heads sometimes? Best of all, though, I love the complete un-photo-shopped candor with which you tell your story.

(Plus, maybe you can use it for collateral at some later date, when the tweeter suddenly develops social awareness, and acutely CARES what people think about her verbal responses!)
debi said…
How enjoyable was that read!!

It's the time spent...

Hugs (tweet),
I do hope that "the one just like her" that you mentioned, brings you as much joy and adventure in life, as you continually do for me. God has His ways of keeping us all humble and totally relying on Him. Also, He blesses some with a wonderful sense of humor through it all, and He certainly did that for you!!! I will be smiling for the rest of the day, after reading this.

Popular Posts