ON CHILDHOOD CREATIVITY
“It was my idea to copy it.” —Elle at six
I specifically got Devin-at-four more than one kind of stickers. I specifically
brought out all the non-sticker stuff—buttons, crayons, little round reinforcements. I specifically didn’t hand him paper.
But soon as we got home he asked for paper and soon as he got paper he got
started sticking, and soon as he got started he got finished, all the stickers, all
the different kinds, happily and efficiently peeled off the sticker paper and stamped—with a proud fist—onto the regular paper. He held it up, the eight-and-a-half by eleven filled to the capillaries with every last sticker.
I guess that time stickers were enough, just-plain stickers and just plain stickING,
unmixed media, the simplest collage. It was his idea to get the stickers, it was
his idea to stick the stickers, it was his idea, his Stück, and that, I guess, was
THE THEORY-CREATOR’S CHILD
Devin-at-five learns by trial and error, not so much words as that there are words
and there are non-words, there are mostly non-words. Only every ten
lines can I exclaim “Hey, that’s BAT?” “Hey, that’s CAT?” “Hey, it you put a
T after it, that’s RAT.”
And so his first written words are RAT. ART. TAR. and TRA and from now on
whenever he happens upon a word I put a circle around it, or he says HE wants
to be the one to put in the circle, and if he feels like making a circle and it’s not a
world he’ll make a non-closed circle; that’s why he calls it, a non-closed circle.
And numbers, too, and plus and equal signs. If it’s true we circle it; if not we don’t
or else he makes a non-closed circle. So he can make as many non-words and
non-true equations as he wants. He can write 2 + 2 = 5 or +++=+, as many
and as long as he pleases. There are these three categories–circle, no-circle,
and non-closed circle
for the land of non-words and non-true equations, the land of stray letters and
unattached plus signs, this land of the lone, land of the lost
but not just any lost, only certain ones, certain special ones, certain ones he
likes, certain ones he picks, I know not how.
THE DAYDREAMER’S CHILD
On the second floor of the University Museum Pam keeps showing Sammy that map on the wall. “That’s North America,” she nervously points, “and that’s South America.”
And I hadn’t realized that a four-year-old knows North and South America aren’t
Little, hadn’t realized a four-year-old could believe in North and South Philly,
let alone North and South America, or at least not my four-year-old,
that he could know what houses and trees stand on, what he stands on, is
the same thing as what North and South America stand on, and that it’s a ball.
The moon can be a ball, Mars can be a ball, but Devin’s planet, Devin’s land—
Devin’s land is without end, Devin’s land is half the world, Devin’s land takes up
the entire bottom.
His land is solid, all one piece, not divided into north and south. Divided,
maybe, into houses and trees, gardens and streets, insides and outsides, but
not needing to be drawn
not needing to be pointed to, not needing a museum, not needing a map.
MILK, REAL MILK
Milk, real milk, original genuine milk
travels in a horseshoe, a U-turn, an almost-circle
the Batman mug he thrusts me as I try to play Brahms, the incipient sips, the
galloping gulps, the guts of me pushing on the older milk, the inner milk, the
milk I now bend down with, the milk I begin to release, the milk which the guts
of him begin to process, the same milk pushing through us both.
And so I can be in his image, and so I can want what he wants
and so I must get what he gets, and so he now brings me a red twizzler, a green
Ninja-Turtle, a Scrabble tile, a lego piece, another glass of milk.