Chapter 16-Walk With Me

I’m convinced homeschooling Josh was the right decision for him. I’m not sure it was the right decision for me but I didn’t have a choice. I take that back. Of course I had a choice but the alternate routes weren’t acceptable to my code of honor.

I couldn’t follow my own path without carrying a crushing load of guilt. And for me, guilt is the emotion that is heaviest to carry. I will do whatever I feel is the right thing to do regardless of what it costs me to avoid feeling that particular emotion.

I enjoyed teaching Josh. I just wasn’t very good at it. And as the days turned into weeks and weeks into months I began to feel buried again. It was hard to live a joyful life when I felt so inadequate. I don’t tolerate failure very well and I didn’t want to sink back to the dark place that had taken me years to get out of.

It amuses me to look back on life and see those instances, those little tiny, inconsequential moments that profoundly change your existence. I did a grocery run, one of those quick to the store for bread and milk runs. It wasn’t even a big grocery store, or even a big town, but the little community I live closest to.

In a rush, I hurried toward the entrance and found myself staring at the bulletin board outside the automatic door. Dozens of cards and for sale notices and ads were pinned to the wall but one jumped out at me. I have no idea why or how but it caught my eye; watercolor classes and a name and phone number.

I thought about that card as I grabbed the items I’d come to the store to buy. I had an interest in art. Ever since I could hold a pencil I’ve drawn, doing recognizable portraits by the time I was ten. I had been looking at a degree in commercial art right before my father passed away. I’d even taken a two year Art Instruction course after I got married.

Excitement tugged at me. Maybe taking art classes would be the outlet I needed to pull me back from the dark place. I needed something to ground me. Something that would help me feel good again. So on my way out the door, I jotted down the phone number on the grocery receipt.

I made that phone call. I remember the dear lady giving the classes and I got my introduction to watercolor painting. I can’t describe what taking that class did for me. But as much as I enjoyed it something else was working. Something coming I never, in my life, expected.

Between classes I would practice and Josh watched me. The first few times, he just watched. Then he started to pester me, grunting to get my attention. When I would look at him, I’d see him staring at the paints. Then he would catch my eyes, the sign that he wanted to tell me something.

After he had my attention, he would look at his clenched fist, then he would look at my paints and paper, then he’d look back at me, his sign that he was finished telling me whatever he was trying to get across to me.

As clearly as if he’d said the words I understood he wanted to paint. So, I gave him paper and paint and let him finger paint. He did a few of those and then he did a rare thing. He had a temper tantrum.

He got so angry he went into a full wind-up which is a primitive reflex pattern that happens when he gets upset. He kicked his foot and made a lot of vocalizations that I’m probably better off not knowing what he was trying to say.

When I got him calmed down I asked him to tell me what was wrong. He caught my eyes, looked down at his clenched fist and then slowly, and very deliberately, he looked not at the paints or the paper but at the paintbrush.

He didn’t want to play with the paints. He wanted to PAINT. Real pictures, real technique. Man, he laid a ton of guilt on me. What could I do? I needed to teach him again. But this time, I’d teach him art and that, my friends, is a subject I’m very good at.

From that one moment in time, a small, inconsequential act in a split second of time forever changed a life. How amazing is that?

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