(This memory from my daughter's early days at school was jogged by Jane Healy's Magpie - No.36 - this week, following Tess Kincaid's picture prompt. Thank you Jane. Thank you Tess.)
Figure Eight, 1952, by Franz Kline
Every day, I go to meet my daughter, 5, coming out of school, to walk home with her. Her school-pal's mother is usually waiting also. If not, I will take the pal home. This is the understanding. Let's call my daughter's pal "Denise"
Denise's Mum knows I am in the University. She also knows that education is always spelt with a capital "E" - if you know what I mean. This particular day she is there herself, waiting for Denise. We chat about this and that. We hear the bell tinkling from inside the school. The children will be getting their school-hats and coats, and soon they'll come charging out, and soon they do. It is their first year at school. No one charges quite like a 5 year old.
My daughter and Denise appear together, and both are holding out at arms' length the paintings they have been doing that morning. Two A5 sheets, both of which are riots of colour, the sort of uninhibited work which is not meant to express anything except the sheer joy of getting paint onto paper, particularly when the paper today was big, big, BIG! Their little faces are shining with achievement. The way they hold their paintings out, at arms length in front of them says "Look at my super picture!" I imagine their art-work blu-tacked to the kitchen wall, or in my study at the Uni.
And what does Denise's mother say? (Education with a capital "E" remember!) She says "Ahh Denise! What a mess!"
I don't know if this put-down became one of Denise's life-long memories (she's in her forties now) but it certainly became one of mine. As did the memory of her wee face crumpling into tears.