I’ve been having some great one-on-one time with Micah lately. Cindy has been attending a ladies’ Bible study on Wednesday mornings, so I stay home with Micah. I think it’s because our girls are older now (12 and 11) — and because I’m older too and realize how quickly time passes — that I really cherish these early years with Micah.

We eat breakfast together then maybe take in Sesame Street. He’s not one to sit for too long, though. For instance, the other morning I was watching a replay of the previous night’s D-backs game. He enjoys watching baseball for about 3 minutes and 24 seconds. Then he’s up and wanting to get in the game.

We have plenty of little balls to choose from. And bats too. He likes the cardboard variety, the ones hidden beneath a roll of paper towels. I caught him once pulling towels from the roll to get to the prize inside. I had to tell him no, of course, but secretly I was proud of his resourcefulness.

A couple weeks ago we got some crayons and a coloring book out. He liked scribbling/coloring for a little while but found more joy in rolling the oversized crayons across the table — sort of like table hockey. It was while we were coloring that I recalled something from childhood.

I must have been 8 or 9 and I was rather proud of my coloring, how I kept to the boundaries of the pre-printed lines. I remember showing it to my older brother, who would have been about 13. We were driving home, I’m certain. I can actually picture the street. We’d just turned from 4th Avenue onto a little street then another before George Street, where we lived. That I recall it so keenly is a testament to how my little heart was broken by relatively innocent criticism.

My brother critiqued my shading, how with a crayon you need to color in circular motions. He’d taken to art in junior high himself, mostly drawing and charcoals. He was my older brother. Perhaps I was seeking affirmation. Instead, I was devastated and responded in the way I still do now, defensively and antagonistically.

I said to him, “Well, you’re just a con artist.” To which he laughed, angering me further.

I’d heard the term before and supposed it referred to one who is a discourager of the arts. It wouldn’t be the last time my art would be criticized. Many con artists would follow.

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