For Mother's Day, my fifth and sixth graders painted with acrylic on 16x20 canvas. I told them they could paint anything they wanted, but it had to be something that would bless their mom--something SHE likes and would appreciate. So, no baboons or hot cars-- unless she's into hot cars like I am.
First I asked them to sit and think about it for a few minutes. Just think. Then they had to sketch their idea on paper almost as big as the canvas. I wanted to "approve" their rough idea and offer any suggestions or answer questions. (This age tends to draw things small and so most of my encouragement was "Bigger! Bigger!")
As I expected, many students opted to paint flowers. A couple of them chose tea cups. Most of them were smiling
or chatting as they drew. But one boy was sad and I understood why. His uncle--his mom's 30-year-old brother--
had just passed away. He'd had brain cancer and lost his battle a few days after Easter. The funeral was fresh
in this boy's memory.
He sat and sketched and when I came by to see his piece, I thought it was rather curious. Perhaps better suited for a Father's Day piece--or something the boy enjoyed, not so much his mom. But I trusted that he understood the assignment as he always did, so I simply asked him about his drawing.
"Is your mom into swordfish or deep sea fishing?"
He shook his head. "No, she's not. But my uncle--her brother--said the best day of his life was the day he caught a swordfish."
I gulped. Tears filled my eyes. I patted the boy's shoulder and said, "That's perfect. Your mom's gonna love it."
In that moment, I felt I was standing on holy ground. God visited him with a treasure of an idea to paint and I got to witness it.
After Mother's Day, I asked the boy what his mom thought of the painting. "She loved it!"
"I bet she did. Did she cry?"
"No, but my grandma was there when Mom opened it, and she bawled."