Dear Little Evan, #8

Dear Little Evan,

I remember the day you quit drawing. It was Art Class. You were eight. You knew that drawing wasn't your strong suit, but you liked to draw anyway. You were a child, and children love to draw even when they aren't very good at it. You liked the things boys your age liked. Cartoons, Final Fantasy, Pokémon cards, Dragonball Z. You loved that show back then, you'd often pretend to be Goku or Krillin fighting against the Saiyan alien invaders. Your youthful imagination carried you at recess, playtime, whenever you needed to escape from reality for a bit. 


You were in Art Class. You were eight. You knew that drawing wasn't your strong suit, but you liked to draw anyway. You were a child, and children love to draw even when they aren't very good at it... You've replayed that narrative over and over in your mind. Art Class. Eight. Loved to draw. Until you didn't of course. You drew a scene from Dragonball Z, the Z fighters resisting Nappa and the Saibamen. You loved your little drawing. You were proud of it. You were a child. You were eight... You showed your art teacher. You asked her what she thought, smiling, happy with what you made. And she scoffed. She told you, "that isn't art."


You quit drawing that day, Little Evan. You didn't ever take an elective art class as long as you were in school. An adult, a woman in her forties, spoke cruelty into you. She saw a little boy, one who needed tutoring and wasn't special like her Reach kids; and she told him, "that isn't art." She was usually cold and aloof with you anyway, but that statement was downright cruel. You cried yourself to sleep that night. You felt worthless, like nothing you could ever make would amount to anything. 


I'm sorry that happened. That was wrong of her to say. But I liked your drawing, Little Evan. I will always consider it a work of art. You may never draw again, but you will write. Remember that no one except for you gets to decide if what you created was art. Whether or not it's good isn't what matters. What matters is you saw a void in the world and decided to fill it with a piece of your heart. You created art that day, no matter what that teacher said. You'll create more art, too.


From me to you,


Big Evan





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Starward's picture

This reminds me of an

This reminds me of an experiece I had in sixth grade.  Two years before, I had "discovered" that my beloved Frankenstein films that were broadcast from time to time on Shock Theater on Saturday afternoons (the old B/W Universal Studios productions) were not just improvised by the actors, but had been based upon an idea in a novel by Mary Shelley (who was not quite nineteen years old when she thought of it, and was twenty-one when it was published).  Her example made me want to be a writer.  So, in that sixth grade class, we were assigned to write a short story, and I wrote about a rather formidable creature from mythology, but I dumbed the monster down so that it was friendly.  The paper was returned by my teacher, with a remark scrawled across it in red pencil, "This is poor taste."  Flash forward to January 2001:  my first internet publication happened in London, England, when a poem of mine was accepted by a very strict board of directors who were scholars of the so-called Jack the Ripper murders.  My poem attempted to explain the five anomalies of the fifth and final murder.   Any theory can explain one, some theories successfully explain two, but none explain all five.  Mine did; it is still on that site, as well as on PostPoems, and my theory has never been overturned.  (It was once plagiarized by a writer who thought it had been fully proven, but I had to advise her that it was still "just a theory" lacking objective evidence; just a thought exercise without forensic authentication.  She did take steps to cite it properly in a footnote, rather than just quote it.)  I never had a chance to show that to my sixth grade teacher, who had probably croaked by that time, but I hope she knows it now . . . wherever she happens to be. 

  I hope I am not stretching credibility too far by comparing, broadly not specifically, my experience to yours.  I suspect it happens to many, many children.  When my stepson was in middle school, he was assigned to write a paper on Adolf Hitler, using library materials not a home encyclopedia.  I drove him to our area's local university, made him look up several texts, and watched him as he wrote his paper there.  (He did have quite an eye for the collegiate beauties who were moving about the room, and I had to repeatedly remind him to keep his eyes on his paper.)  I proofread the paper and made sure his punctuation was correct.  He was the only student in his class to use a university library, which gave him some status that week.  However the paper was returned with an A minus, although no other marks or comments had been put upon it.  I knew it was an A plus paper because I had supervised it.  He was crushed by the "minus."  The next day, I called the Principal from my office, advised him of the situation, and demanded that he find out why the paper did not achieve A+.  He told me that the teacher had refused to comment further.  I then asked the principal if the teacher would meet with me, in the principal's office, for an in-depth discussion of the history of the Third Reich---and I told the principal that I had probably forgotten more about Hitler than that teacher had ever learned.  The teacher flatly refused to meet with me, he flatly refused to change the grade, and the principal refused to compel the grade change.  This so disgusted my stepson that he began to give up entirely, and as soon as he turned sixteen, he dropped out.  Good teachers are educators; mediocre teachers are mis-educators; and bad teachers, like my son's history teacher, are ignorizers.

Enjoy effulgent days, and exquisite nights,

unto the exultations of Heaven.