I have never been great with change.
My parents should have been tipped off at 3 year-old-Erica’s displeasure at the birth of sister, Erin, but it didn’t really go down until I caught a glimpse of Kindergarten leering at me from the distant horizon.
I have to leave the house every day? WITHOUT MOM BUT MOM IS GREAT WHY CAN’T MOM COME DAD DON’T MAKE ME GO TO SCHOOL OH MY GOD NOOOOOOOOOOOO.
Gurl was buggin’. And so that morning in late August finally came, featuring my Keds-wearing mother finagling Weeping Erica onto the cheerful yellow schoolbus, then worriedly following aforementioned schoolbus to the school at a respectable distance to make sure that Weeping Erica hadn’t offed herself at some point on the thirty minute commute to Fairview Elementary.
I was so distressed by this upheaval of my young life that finally my kind and street-smart grandparents intervened, offering me a new friend to take to school with me to make me brave– Rainbow Bird.
Rainbow Bird was a little fabric stuffed bird pin that a small weeping child could wear on the front of her mismatched leggings outfit or tiny dress all day at school to feel safe and like she had a buddy in this cruel world.
And Weeping Erica turned 6 and 7 and 8 and 14 and 19 and so forth and continued to weep and Rainbow Bird’s pin fell off and Weeping Erica started carrying a purse and Rainbow Bird rode with her everywhere, on school buses and in minivans and in boys’ cars and on airplanes and when Weeping Erica’s purse was stolen in Spain when she was 20 she realized how lucky she was that she had transitioned Rainbow Bird to be a member of her troupe of bedside good-luck ornaments– a little pile of joobs like the enormous worry dolls Erin brought back from Belize, the worry stone Momcat offered up, the chestnut Jake found in 2009, and a handful of rocks one might pick up in one’s world travels, little pieces of here or there, tucking them into pockets for later.
And there Rainbow Bird has remained, moving everywhere I have– to Huntingdon, to Leeds, back to Huntingdon again, to Brooklyn, back to Huntingdon again, to Dunedin, back to Huntingdon again, back to Brooklyn again, and back to Huntingdon one more time, where we will remain.
So it is no wonder that, when I was preparing for a job interview last month, Momcat recommended I tuck Rainbow Bird in my pocket.
It must have been Rainbow Bird’s continuation of luck and love and good Kindergarten juju that won over the panel of interviewers and the school board, because now I am teaching elementary school art to children just like Weeping Erica, children with good luck charms on their chests or in their pockets, children who just want to draw and eat lunch for goodness sake.
On my first day I explained to an assortment of children, grades K-5, that throughout time artists have used self-portraits to represent themselves to others, and often these artists include objects in their compositions to give hints about who they are and what they do.
I was pleased to see many children define themselves by the feline company they keep as well.
My desk is already catted up.
The future is bright, and will likely include lots of construction paper and tissue paper and scheming of how to encourage interdisciplinary minds and the support of loved ones and Rainbow Bird alike.