This is Emma. She is six years old, an attender of first grade, and, methinks, a young girl born with the "artist's eye."
Have loved this kid, my sister's child, mightily since the day she was born. Her middle name is Mary, and we've been called the "before and after" picture. "I got one just like you," my sister says.
Emma and I have much fun together...sometimes so much, we have to be separated. "Will you two tone it down?" is a common request. We laugh a lot.
During Thanksgiving, she became a photographer.
"Can I use your camera, Aunt Mare?" she asked. "Can I take a picture?"
"Sure, kid," I said. There were lots of warnings from others in the room. "Emma, be careful with that." "Emma, don't drop it."
"She's fine," I replied. "Let her snap some photos."
And she did. Of pies, people, fish in a tank.
And this one of her baby brother Pete, who fell asleep on the living room floor by the couch:
How'd she know to capture the block on the right, to only snap 3/4 of Pete?
Beginner's luck? Maybe. But I think she can already see the right part of the picture when she looks at something. You see it in her drawings too.
Arts funding -- music, drawing, painting, writing -- continues to be cut from school budgets across the nation. But an artist will draw, write, paint, and compose without extra education. 'Cause they can't help themselves. They must. These are the kids who are bright, who don't fit into the school mold because standard education bores 'em silly, and who create to learn their own way. Emma is one of these children.
Emma's lucky. She has two loving parents who support her creative efforts. And I got to thinking as I look at her pictures just how much kids need the additional friendship of brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers, grandfathers and other rellies. It allows them to grow creatively. My mother's second cousin Walter bought me a colored pencil set and a pad of drawing paper when I was around six years old. My brother Kevin gave me the guitar he got for Christmas when I was 11, 'cause he thought I would like it better. How my Dad would walk by my room at night and I'd be under the covers, reading by flashlight. He would walk on, rarely telling me to go to sleep.
Somehow the people who really care about us understand and know how important creating is to some of us. And how small unexpected gestures help us along.
So after all the phototaking, I was getting ready to go home, and Emma, already in her p.j.s, was preparing to go upstairs to bed. My brother-in-law Dave snapped this photo:
One more laugh until next time.