Beatrix: Six and a Half

Hey B,

Overhead photo of beatrix drawing a kiwi in a sketchbook, surrounded by art supplies

You’re sitting across from me in the living room, folded up in the pink chair, playing Animal Crossing and sniffling. Not COVID, just the kind of boring cold kids get. Or at least the kind that was boring, before all this.

You’ve got 4 days left of school this year. In most ways, it’s been a really great year for you. After the last two years with so much virtual school, this one has been almost… normal. You have friends you run around with, and school work that you love, and friends who bring a bunch of grade 1 drama, and school work that you don’t love, and you come home every day chattering about all of it. Every dinner takes half an hour longer than it otherwise would because you’re so busy catching us all up that you forget to eat. It’s good to take time with your food, we don’t want to rush you but, if I’m honest, the phrase, “B, we’re all still waiting on you kiddo,” is a pretty common occurrence.

Just after my last letter to you, your teacher got sick, and stayed sick for several months. While she was out, you had a long-term supply teacher. You and he almost went to war. You might not remember why, by the time you read this, but here’s what we learned. Your regular teacher had made a deal with you: once you did all the math or spelling or whatever that she wanted you to, you could do art. You kept up your end of the deal and she kept up hers. But the supply teacher didn’t. He felt like, if you were done your work, he would give you extra work. You would ignore that work, and do art. He would remind you to do your extra worksheets. You would more secretly do your art.

It escalated to where he actually confiscated your art at some point, and put it in his desk. And B, my otherwise emotional little critter, you didn’t melt down, you just got serious. You waited until he was helping another kid, snuck up, stole the art back out of his desk, and – this is my most favourite part – smuggled it home in your boot so he wouldn’t steal it again. Incredible work, kiddo.

We didn’t find out about this back and forth until near the end of his time in your class, but it explained why you were starting to talk about not liking school. Why you’d even started faking symptoms to avoid going. We knew that art was important to you, but it took us a minute to connect the dots on how the loss of art was impacting you. Your mom found an afterschool art program for you that week, and the woman who runs it talked to us about how she feels like her goal is to help every kid take all of the feelings they bring in and get them out into the art. And then your mom and I cried a little bit.

The war of art notwithstanding, you’re doing great. You’re still curious about everything. You’re swimming. You’re biking. You’re reading everything you can get your hands on. You’re shy about making new friends but brave, braver than a lot of adults, at sticking up for a friend if you see them treated unfairly. A few months ago you saw some transphobic protesters out on the street, and read their signs, and told us that we should go back and stand across from them with a sign that said, “DISAGREE.”

Okay, you need help collecting some shells and fossils in the game, so I’m gonna wrap this one up. Tomorrow we might take a family bike ride down to the beach where you like to look for beach glass. I love those trips, and so do you. I’m excited for the summer you’re gonna have, and that we’re gonna have together.

I love you kid,

Daddy

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