Yesterday I got to hang out with a little girl and talk to her. I was at the Art Co-op Store where I have a few paintings hanging. I was working with the little girl’s grandmother, and I was painting a small watercolor of a horse. The little girl came in, and I gave her something to paint on and with and she sat down with me and we had a good time.
She’s going into third grade. I said, “I remember liking third grade. I had fun then.” In fact, it was hard, because I was a new kid in a new school, but, you know, otherwise, it was very good. I learned a lot about drawing — my teacher’s husband had been stationed in Japan and she brought Japanese paintings for me to copy (it kept me quiet, too…)
This little girl said, “I don’t think I’m going to have any fun. We don’t have any fun at my school.”
“We just take tests.”
“I remember getting to read some good books.”
“I won’t. I’m still in the last level in reading so I get to read second grade books until I pass the exam. In reading I’m still in level X-2 and I need to be in level X-3 if I am going to read new books.”
Imagine that. Knowing when you start a WHOLE new school year you’re going to read the SAME thing you did the year before even though you’re in a new grade.
“I’m sorry about that,” I said. “If I ruled the world you could at least read a new book.”
“Yeah, that would be nice, but I can’t read a new book until I pass the test.”
“Well, like I said, if it were up to me.”
“I’d like school if it was like this.”
“Yeah. I’d like that.”
“You don’t get to paint in school?”
“No. We just take tests on iPads. I hate that..”
Her painting of a volcano was pretty good and showed a decent understanding of geology. It had fiery red lava, a black sky and a dark mountain. She wanted to put smoke in her picture, but since she’d painted the sky black, she couldn’t see how. “Take a paper towel,” I said, “wet it and soak up some of that black sky. You’ll have nice smoke!” She did. She followed instructions, saw how it worked and got some very good smoke effects for her efforts. I was tickled. She was a teachable little girl, truly interested and ready to learn.
After she finished her volcano she did two more paintings on blue post-its, both of them were of the beach. I said, “Are you going to put in sea gulls and an umbrella?” She did and then she told me the story of all the people at the beach.
When she finished drawing, she went outside and jumped rope.
This is a very cool little girl. She’s smart and she’s talented and imaginative. In no way is she a behavior problem or learning challenged. She’s just a normal, bright kid. She’s 8 years old. She likes to learn and she hates school.
I could cry.