My printer broke some time ago.
I’m not trying to win any pity points with you, my readers…
…my wonderful, loyal and very intelligent readers, that is…
But as the life of one piece of machinery came to an end, the birth of a bonding experience between father and sons began.
While the home printer had a handful of tasks expected of it, the real showstopper for my two kids was clear and obvious: print coloring book pages.
The orders were short, clear and concise:
· Find a superhero
· Print out the superhero
· Run with reckless abandon to the table to bring the superhero to life with color
One morning, after promising my kids a glorious morning of stacking both pancakes and printed coloring book pages high, my printer went to the big inkjet box in the sky.
You had one job, printer.
And so, I was left with two children loaded up on maple syrup excited for coloring, who were about to crushed by the news.
That’s when I decided to take a pencil and take action. I lightly traced the images they were hoping to color in with great attention.
Drawing is not my forte. Art, for me, is generally limited to words, and every once in a while, a decent enough mountain landscape.
That’s the limit.
I can appreciate a great artist, but has always been a passing ‘like’ of mine. Never a ‘love.’ I guess I just never caught whatever artistic bug talented artists catch. So my self-appointed job has been to keep tracing. Drawing freeform is not my strength.
A couple months ago, Cooper asked me to draw a racing car, and then a superhero that we would make up on the spot.
Once finished, the only thing I was proud of was my six-year-old’s patience and positive choice of words when looking at my rounded, small-wheeled vehicle. To be honest, the frame of the car alone seems like a safety hazard that crash test dummies would flee from.
That takes us to the greatest hero you have never heard of—Sandstorm. He flies through crime with the greatest of ease, in case you were wondering.
His tornado-like legs looked fine, but the rest of his physique was straight out of a Rorschach inkblot test.
What can I say?
Some see a crime-fighting hero. Others see a distant cousin of the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man with no eyelids, questionable posture and a tornado for a torso.
My sons, however, seem to be inheriting a gene much more familiar to my wife and my mom.
My wife will never admit artistic accomplishment, but the projects she works on with the kids beg to differ. She is thoughtful in her planning and great in her execution of everything from painting, drawing, molding or using any medium that my kids can use without burning the house down.
My mom, who taught art amongst her various teaching accomplishments, eschews creativity in drawing. Her actual signature when signing a check is frame-worthy. And there always seems to be no shortage of projects to do at her house.
I lean on both of them for leadership when the creative juices start flowing.
Which is a good thing, because my kids consume artwork. There is a clear, plastic bin that easily houses more than 100 crayons in my house that gets more use than any container or toy in the Farnsworth household.
Cooper especially is getting good. Legit good. Better than I was at twice his age.
To help reinforce this skill, we have put up several corkboards and bought draw-able frames, which we have mounted on a large hallway wall to showcase their own gallery.
Forget the fridge. That’s for amateurs. We needed our own six-year-old version of The Met.
Cooper has also watched a couple of instructional videos on drawing to improve his skills. Yes, instructional videos. At age six. And he re-watches them to get better.
Over the years, I have had a front row seat to seeing his lines get sharper, coloring in with nary a crayon stroke outside the lines and develop more and more ideas on what images to apply to paper.
And Milo’s motor skills are not where Cooper is, but he is gaining ground fast.
More astounding to me is their attention to detail. They are incredibly active kids who have the capacity for some periods of the day to slow down, concentrate on more and more complex sketches and work miracles with those writing tools.
This takes me to my one and only 2020 New Year’s Resolution: my art.
Or lack thereof, to be more accurate.
It is my 2020 Resolution to get better. Or try. Will I get better? I think so (practice, etc.). Either way, that crayon bin is big enough for me to try and go out of my comfort zone and draw like I have never drawn before.
(And if you have seen my artwork, you might believe I, indeed, have never drawn before.)
“The printer is still broken” shall never be an excuse in my household to stall out their creativity. I will keep tracing and keep trying.
Because failing with a crayon while sitting beside you is greater than succeeding at any hobby without you there.
So, my dudes, call on me to draw; call on me to color; call on me to sit down with you on this.
And if you’re feeling nostalgic, perhaps Sandstorm shall fly again.
Josh Farnsworth is a husband, father of goofballs Cooper and Milo, goofball himself, and award-winning writer and columnist living in Worcester. He can be reached for column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.