On the first day of art classes this term, a new student arrives – all of 5 years old- I put out my hand to shake hers to say ‘hello’ and I realize right away she only has one hand.
I have been running my little art school for 10 years, and a day does not go by without it bringing me some kind of magic, some kind of learning or a new way of looking at the world.
Over those years I have been both fascinated by the moms who I never meet over the course of several terms who leave their children with me once a week and those who request a special meeting to go over special needs, talents, requirements of their children.
This little girl came with no introduction other than a very sweet email from her mom last June “heard great things about your classes, want to sign my daughter up”
I come to understand that her mom’s attitude is part of her strength and power.
Of course, as it always happens in life, the first day we are doing sculpture. Very ‘hands on’.
We sit around the big table and introduce ourselves with a colour that best describes us as well as what our favourite creative moment was this past summer
This girl to my right who says she is orange, is feisty and good natured, self-possessed and with the face of an angel and a personality that instantly says- I am the youngest by 10 years in a family of all boys.
I love her instantly
We are mixing clay now- and my colour scientists love this. It has always required 2 hands – so I look all around the table without directly looking at her and say ” if anyone needs help I am here”
She has her method and does extremely well.
Half an hour into it- little girl to her right screams out
“HEY, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR HAND?”
Angel says nothing and keeps on mixing.
“WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR HAND?”
All kids silent and staring now
I said, touching the back of her head covered with golden curls, “Darling would you like to explain in your words?”
She looks over smiling, chin up high in the air ” I was born this way.”
End of story
In the silence I say “She is very special. I bet her hand print is special too”
I ask if she would make a print of it in the clay.
And she loves that idea.