The little boy who lives next door has become my friend. He struggles in school but he is bright as a button, so it makes no sense.
My friend Jon, who is a teacher, suggested that he may have something called Erlen’s Syndrome. It’s a reading difficulty caused by light sensitivity and can be corrected with colour overlays. I told his dad, who told the school, who tried the overlays and voila! He can read! Apparently it’s a huge transformation.
A few days ago, I asked if he would read to me. He said no because “I’m not very good at it, even though I’m better than I used to be.”
But this evening, he ran round to my house right after school. He had his book bag with him and hadn’t even changed out of his uniform.
“Want me to read to you?” he asked, trying – but not succeeding – to suppress a proud little grin.
I was so excited that I messed up. I see now that I should have acted as it it was no big deal. But I made a fuss about it, said how thrilled I was, said I couldn’t wait to hear him.
Suddenly he changed.
His defences went up.
I saw it happening but I couldn’t stop it.
“I’m not going to read,” he said. When I asked why not, he just shrugged and said he didn’t want to anymore.
But I know what happened. He saw how excited I was and he thought that meant I expected big things. He thought his reading would be a disappointment to me and he was scared of making a fool of himself.
He’s only 8 and already he’s building walls to protect himself.
Once upon a time I would have felt the same way about today’s painting. I wouldn’t have shared it, because I’m not happy with it. I would have worried that you might judge me, find me lacking.
But I’m past that way of thinking. I know what needs to improve here. I see what mistakes I made. I need to learn to leave some white on the page when creating skin tones in watercolour – this is too heavy-handed. But this is the painting I did tonight, so this is what I am posting.
I wish there was a way to show my little friend that it’s the trying that counts.
This in #69 in a series of one-a-day self portraits. See them all here.