Alex turns two this weekend. Annie and I can’t believe that our little baby has become such a little boy so quickly. (That’s “the Alex” above in his “Easter/going to my first wedding reception the week after” outfit, complete with clip-on tie.) Like I said last year for his first birthday, Alex is truly our masterpiece, albeit a work in progress. His language explosion really stunned me, going from a handful of words (mostly involving cars) to a flurry of words on a variety of subjects ranging from Elmo to the The Wiggles to (you guessed it) cars. Part of me wants him to remain this snuggly, silly, curious, affectionate little monkey forever. But another part of me wants him to get older soon for me to teach him how to play basketball, play catch with in the backyard after dinner, run a 5K with someday (as his pace and mine slowly approach one another), and, of course, appreciate and make art.
Alex picks up a crayon now and then to scribble on the big sheets of paper we tape to his plastic table. It’s not Pablo Picasso, but it’s not Cy Twombly, either. He’s been playing around my old portable easel I use for painting watercolors and drawing pastels, but seems more interested in the fancy snaps and hinges. I remember drawing constantly as a kid, and then drifting away from it as I got older and other interests commanded my time. I never had anyone show me how to draw, so when I wanted to get better, I didn’t know how. Frustration set in and I moved on. It wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I really got the itch to draw again sought some instruction through classes and books. I want to introduce Alex to the joy of drawing. If he doesn’t find it interesting, that’s OK. I want him to follow his bliss. But I also want him to experience a taste of all these great outlets for his imagination, including drawing and painting, before he decides it is or isn’t for him. (Including play acting, as Alex was doing with his cowboy hat [above].) We’ve got a rule in our house that that you’ve got to try a bite before you decide you don’t want to eat something. If Alex waves a new food away, we don’t force it on him. We try again on another day, until we’re sure we don’t like it. Following that rule, I’ve become a sushi lover, something I’d never even try before. Alex is only two, but we want him to take as many “bites” out of life as possible, because you’ll never experience the full flavor of living any other way. Every child deserves that chance. Every adult does, too.