Bear with me. Sometimes a stage must be set.
On Saturday, I took my youngest to see the movie, “Ramona and Beezus.” It is based on the Beverly Cleary children’s books that have been in circulation since the 50’s. I have not been a huge fan of the books in the past, and I can’t say that my reason is good as I have read nary a one.
It’s because we have one of the books on CD. Stockard Channing who narrates uses the screechiest, whiniest voice for the character, Ramona. It literally grates away at your last nerve and wears it down to a nub. Kind of like the small fragment left in your hand when you are finished shredding a block of cheese. But, I digress.
Having this as my only reference for the story line did not prepare me for what I was about to experience sitting next to my daughter in a dark, full, movie theater. Half way in, when Ramona’s cat “Picky Picky” died…..I started to cry. I’m not a cat person. It was not a deep, visceral cry, yet those tears began a steady flow that did not stop until the movie ended. My husband texted me and asked how I liked it. All I could type was that it made me cry for a long time, and I didn’t know why.
Later that evening, he tried to engaged me on why it made me a wreck of sorts, so I began to explain the movie to him. I told him how Ramona was a third grader who was very misunderstood in school. She was always messing things up and not because this was her intention. In fact, many times, she was trying very hard to do the right thing but it generally ended badly.
I talked about how all the kids laughed at her when she was giving an oral report and how the teacher was always exasperated with her behavior and performance. I shared other things, but he interrupted me after I said, “What was so beautiful was that in the end, she was accepted for being different and never getting it right.”
That’s when my husband said, incredulously, “Seriously!? You don’t see why this movie made you cry? Carrie, It’s autobiographical.” I was stunned by his comment. Then he ended with…”Don’t you remember, the little girl whose teacher threw away her homework in front of the entire classroom?”
There’s something beautiful about someone who knows your stories.
He was right, and I didn’t want to see it because it was too painful. School was a horrible place for me.
What my husband was referring to was that in the 4th grade, I had a very harsh teacher. One day, we had an assignment to draw a hot air balloon. I was excited about this because there was no writing, reading, or math involved. Finally, a level playing field. I remember being in my room for a long time creating. I drew a hot air balloon in the shape of Snoopy, the Red Baron. Afterall, he could fly, right?
The next day, the teacher called me to her desk. She held up my picture and asked me to explain myself. I don’t remember the specific words but after getting the attention of the entire class, she made an example of me about what it looks like to not follow directions. She pointed to a huge stack of pictures on her desk that were ‘correct’ then held up mine and crumpled it in my face. She threw it in the trash and then told me to go sit down and do it again. Correctly.
This is just one of a zillion stories I have tucked away in the recesses of my mind. Stories where I just didn’t ‘get it.’ Today, they would say that I am “Dyslexic” and have “Attention Deficit Disorder.” Back then, they had other words.
I didn’t want to talk about it anymore with my husband. I was done with memory lane, but God was not.
On Monday morning, my girls and I read about an artist named Peter Brueghel(1525-1560). You need to know that the readings and assignments for our school day are preplanned by the My Father’s World curriculum. I open a teacher’s guide, and it tells me exactly what to do for several subjects. Art being one of them.
We learned that Brueghel was a genre painter living in a region of turmoil caused by the Spanish Inquisition. Our book described him like this, “Throughout these years of war and religious subjugation, the artist was well aware of the sorrows of his day. Even so, with Peter Brueghel there is a fresh breath of life as his art brings laughter to the soul.”
Because his paintings are often full of people celebrating and enjoying the simple life, my daughters art assignment (that was preplanned) for the day was to draw a large family gathering at Thanksgiving.
Later that morning, my daughter, who is in the fourth grade came down the stairs to show me her picture. She was very excited and proud. She wants to be an artist, one day.
When I looked at it….I was taken a back.
Now, no one said that it couldn’t be a family of mice….celebrating Thanksgiving. Or a hot air balloon shaped like the Red Baron.
And that’s when I heard it….”The Divine Chuckle.”
I hear it every time I refuse to deal with something painful, and God brings it back up in a way that shows me it’s redeemable. He brings it to light to show me He is aware of the hurt and wants to communicate to me that it can become a beautiful wound.
Later I asked her if I could take a picture of her drawing, so that I could blog about it. She asked me why. I told her the story of why Ramona and Beezus made me cry, and then shared with her my Red Baron story. She was horrified and said, “Mommy, if you draw me a picture, I won’t throw it away. I will hang it on my wall.”
Now…..where are my crayons?