Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Bird Claw

"It still doesn't look like a bird," my eight year old whined. She was still in her pajamas, and trying very hard to keep her eyes open. I grunt as I take the eraser from a pink (what else?) barbie pencil box, and vigorously rub off the parts that look like the eagle had a major cloning accident with an orangutan. I opened her science book to look at the image more closely before I finish the sketch.

"OK Mom, I think Ma'am will like this one," she says condescendingly, once she discovered that her mother's drawing skills were not quite as good as she imagined it to be. "No, no. Let me shade it a little better. It will look more like your textbook eagle then," I said, as I decide to get my hands really dirty with graphite.

I must hand it to my daughter  - she knows when to give up on persistent moms trying to behave like kids! She sighed and went right back to sleep.

BACKGROUND : As a practice, I try and open up the bags of my school going kids later into the night, when everyone has gone to bed. This serves two purposes : I get to go through the lives of my kids at school with a fine toothed comb, AND it gives me the pleasure of watching attempts of teachers trying to tame the human brain.

Anyway, here I was, trying to fathom the deep understanding my daughter has, of the difference between a  'perching' bird and a 'hunting' bird, when I discover a comment that tore my heart right out of the rib cage!
"Does not look like a bird. Redo" 

I mean, really? The nerve! My daughter? MY daughter? Redo? We'll show Mrs.Lady-with-stupid-looking-glasses-on-her-nose ! And that's when I first touched pencil to sketch paper...... and I was instantly transported into the 3rd grade, pencil, 'rubber' and sharpener in hand, all ready to make a sketch of the darn bird so that 'Ma'am' will make the class clap for me. This was not first time I enjoyed drawing lines that meet each other to convey messages, but this was certainly like a light year from the last time!

Ever notice the sound pencil makes on paper when you draw? It's different when you write, and different when you lightly scratch it across to shade a drawing. That was such an exhilarating sound! And it just isn't the same writing with a pen - you can't rub it off and start all over again can you? Now I finally get why erasers never last for more than a few days! The sheer pleasure of seeing pencil marks disappear from the sheet.......

And the joyful task of sharpening the blunt pencils were so fulfilling. Life is so simple in the 3rd grade. Made a mistake? Rub it off? Pencil strokes not giving you the lines you desire? Sharpen it! Imagine if she were using ipads or iPhone or igod-know-what to do the same function!

Back to my bird claws... I had now started shading with a different type of pencil. A darker pencil for the outlines, and a lighter one for the shading. I was like a child on Christmas eve! And my exasperated daughter was calling from the bedroom to knock off the whooping. How would she know the joy of having made a near-perfect picture with a pencil? She was a child of the Internet printout era, after all.

After nearly an hour, I was happy with my effort. I couldn't wait till the next day when she would bring me 'Ma'am's appreciation in the form of little red stars in the science book!


  1. I LOVE the sound of pencil on paper. I never miss a chance to write with a pencil.
    But sadly, my drawing skills are *searching for a word more powerful than terrible*. Luckily, I had a mom and sister who were good at it. :) My kids will have to make do with internet printouts. :/

  2. Joys of motherhood:)
    Not that I share them but I have a younger sister who's waaayyyy younger than me and, like you said, my blood boils when her jack*ss or a teacher scolds her unreasonably:)

    Pencils, never liked them much. Sorry. But my handwriting was terrible with them. I like smelling them though:) Even now.

  3. As a Mechanical Engineer, I don't really have a choice but to sketch for a living, wasn't really all that good with drawing in school--> My horse used to look like a dog/dinosaur in Art Class.

  4. The sound that pencil makes on paper is like music to my years. That is probably the reason why after 7 years of using a pen for writing, I still grab every chance to scribble with a pencil:)
    I have so many such experiences with my sibling since he was 5 when I would draw for him or complete his notes because his Lady-with-stupid-looking-glasses-on-her-nose (:P) thought his drawings were unfit..:)
    It doesn't take time to become a 5 year old when you have someone of the age around, no ?
    A very nice post :)

  5. The good old school days of the pencils, the sharpeners and the Scented Rubbers .. and the big long pencils with rubbers on on end ... :)



  6. @Spaceman, hahaha.... lemme know when you find that word. Will need more adjectives to describe my scrawls too! And I know you love pencil sounds.

    @Peevee... I know.. i wonder why teachers don't realize that kds have different learning speeds and attention spans! And smelling them? hmm... thats a new one. But hey, did you know that keeping them in the fridge makes them write darker? :-)

  7. @Atrocious.. heheh..we all have dinosaur looking dogs in our school achievement stories! thanks for letting me know I am not the only one with drawing issues here!

    @Priyanka.. thanks! I really think we should gather all these glasses-on-noses people and put them through some sensitivity training! what say? And I think i agree with you on the 5 year old thing! thanx

  8. They do? Nice. All pencils or specific brands/types?
    My sister's gonna like this one, thanks:)

  9. I remember the days when drawing would be my bessst period.. and I would just love doing the figures, the horse, the lady in a village...

    Amazing.. you transported me back to school.. I was very good at this. Although I have my doubts if I can do it anymore.

  10. Wow, you made me nostalgic. I love stationery. Freshly sharpened pencils and new stiff erasers and crisp, unused notebook paper. Hmm, nice that you can relive these things through your kid. Nice post!

  11. @PeeVee .. yup they do! and for all graphite pencils.

    @Punamjr ... lady in a village! wow! you must be really good at this!

    @Sumitra ... thanks for reading! Am glad you liked it.

  12. Wow, childhood revisited :)

    truly, wish things were as simple as rubbing 'em off with an eraser as it was the case once upon a time... :)

  13. Birds can't write no matter how amazing their claws are. Better to be able to write like a bird than can't write anything at all:-)

  14. @Beaverton P.C. ... honored that you visited my blog! Am sure it had to do with the post saying "claws"!! Thank you for coming by!