Across the street from us lives an absolutely lovely older couple. They are the nicest neighbors you could ask for. When we first moved in, they helped explain the three-can trash system to us and mentored us on how to care for our rose bushes. They get a real kick out of our kids and always make a point to chat with them when we're all outside.
On Veteran's Day, I suggested to David and Juliana that they make cards for our neighbor as he is a WW II veteran. We talked about what the holiday meant and how important it was to say thank you to people who had fought in wars. I pointed out to David that since he had fought in WW II, it was especially meaningful to us, as Jews.
Juliana, of course, ran to the table to start her card. Juliana does not need to be told to make cards. She will make you three cards a day just to tell you she loves you. Juliana makes the enitre Hallmark industry look like a bunch of impassive slackers. Juliana goes through so much paper that I can't believe there's a tree left standing in Oregon. Juliana will cover the aforementioned paper with hearts, rainbows, winged fairies, more hearts, ballerinas, a few more hearts, and unicorns.
David, on the other hand, is a man of few words--and even fewer pictures. He will put out the least amount of effort possible for art-related school projects. I can't say what he would draw for fun because if he doesn't have to draw something, he won't. But he gamely went to the table with a piece of paper. At this point, I went upstairs to put away laundry. Juliana soon brought me her card which was decorated with all sorts of red white and blue hearts. She had written "Thank You" and "Happy Veteran's Day". Plus a few more hearts for good measure.
A few minutes later, David came upstairs beaming with pride. He handed me his card. The cover had some random red white and blue markings. The inside was where he had concentrated his best effort. My child who hates to draw had produced a tour de force. On the left side of the page was a stick figure labeled with our neighbor's name. This figure was holding a gun which had bullets flying out of it. On the right side was a pile of stick figures in various stages of distress. They were labeled "Notzees" and some were lying prone, while others listed to the side. One was standing upright. He was labeled "Hitler". He had a talking bubble over him that said "Curse you!" Crayon dashes, representing bullets from our hero's gun, covered Hitler and his Notzees.
I looked at David who was obviously pleased with his work. I gave the parental equivalent of not making eye contact with a crazy person by saying, "Wow, I can see you really worked hard on this." Then I quickly excused myself to the bathroom where Ritu was taking a shower. I was completely at a loss. I didn't want to crush David's little spirit by negating his foray into art, but there was no way in hell we could give that to our kindly old neighbor. I don't know much about his war experiences, but I do know he spent time as a POW. Ritu and I held a quick conference about what to do. I took a deep breath and went back out. Juliana gave me the perfect entry by asking, "Did you see David's card? Didn't you think it was funny?" That gave me a chance to say that yes, I had thought it was funny, but that I wasn't so sure our neighbor would think so. I explained to David that I didn't know what he'd done in the war and maybe David's drawings would bring back some sad or scary memories. Ok, I was pretty sure our neighbor had never actually shot Hitler, but still.
David listened seriously and seemed to understand. I knew that if I asked him to start fresh with a new card, he would bail on the whole project, so I suggested he keep the same cover and glue it to a new page or make a new picture to glue over his drawing. He decided to make some more red white and blue designs and glued them over his cartoon. Later, Ritu took the kids across the street to deliver the cards. Our neighbor was napping, but came by later when my mom was here babysitting to thank the children. He was extremely touched by the fact that we had taken the time to make the cards and acknowledge him that day. He didn't say anything about David's authentic battlefield re-creation, so I'm guessing the glue held.