When the kindergarten class makes flower drawings for Mother’s Day, mine comes home addressed to Oliver, a favorite classmate who has become one of my kid’s first friends in a pandemic year of part-time in-person school. They’ve been in the same class, but alternating days of the week. Now months into the school year, they’ve realized they ride the bus together, separated by several seats for social distancing. They share a love of dinosaurs, rocks, and reptiles, and I imagine most of their playground conversation is exchanged in roars. It’s a language that reaches across time and space, or the vast void of an empty bus seat.
“I think you meant to give this to Oliver,” I say to my son after pulling the crayon-colored art out of the daily folder. It’s in the right pocket along with a completed worksheet for counting to 100, firmly in the side labeled Keep at Home. The entire scene—flowers standing in a vase—is a monochromatic red, drawn in a single swirling line, like a hurricane. Across the top, in can’t-be-missed capital letters, is OLIVER, though it’s clearly written by my son, with his name filling out the from field.
“The teacher said to give it to someone you love,” he tells me, beaming from the completed project. “It’s for Love You Day.”
My kids celebrated lots of Love You Days, which had become their general term for the parental holidays, grandparents day, and sibling celebrations. Now in elementary school, my son had graduated from the preschool project of painted hands and feet decorated into the holiday du jour.
I add the page to the mountain of print-outs that had come home from school, but he has other ideas.
“Put it on the fridge,” he instructs, pointing to the kitchen gallery that collects other holiday art, affixed by large photo magnets with Love written across the frame of each one. “See it says the same thing, L-O-V-E.”
I read the letters now in a different order. LOVE, in five-year-old enthusiasm, has been written out in a word he has practiced so much more. OLIVER—almost all of the same letters, just in a different arrangement.
“Oliver, you too,” I think, as I display the elementary artwork on the refrigerator, where it joins a paper bouquet of Christmas cards and hand-printed turkeys depending on the season, making this the spot we come to when we need to feel full again
This post is part of a blog hop with Exhale—an online community of women pursuing creativity alongside motherhood, led by the writing team behind Coffee + Crumbs. Click here to view the next post in the series “Love Looks Like”.