Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sidewalk Dreams

A story in the news really caught my attention today, and not because it was shocking or grisly, it was just a little story about a little girl, drawing her dreams.

Natalie Shea is a first-grader in New York. At 6, her world is wide open, her dreams can be outrageous because childhood is the time for outrageous dreams and there is beauty to be found everywhere. Natalie is an artist.

Natalie shared her dreams with friends and neighbors by drawing a big blue flower in chalk on her front stoop. Her mother was understandably surprised when she received a notice informing her that she had 45 days to remove the "graffiti" or face a $300 fine. Some neighbor had complained.

At 6, Natalie showed she had more sense than the complaining grown-up who obviously has lost the ability to see the beauty around her.

"My mom got a ticket for graffiti, and it wasn't even graffiti," Natalie said. "It was art, very nice art."

Her mother didn't have to worry about the fine, because as the mean-spirited neighbor should have realized would happen, the chalk "graffiti" disappeared with the next rainstorm.

I have, on occasion, bought my children sidewalk chalk and I must admit, even helped them cover the driveway with drawings, sayings and (as the hippy in me came out) peace signs and words like "groovy". The sad thing is that I have also wondered if my landlord would come along and object because sometimes I wonder if he can see what is really drawn there.

It reminded me of a snatch of a song I wrote a long time ago, I may have been a teen at the time. It is only a snatch because for better or worse (probably better), I don't remember the rest of it.

When we were young
Our songs were unsung
And we wrote our secrets
on the sidewalk
But you know chalk
Doesn't last very long
and come the dawn
We'd lost ourselves in the pictures we'd drawn

I pity the neighbor whose sight is so shortened by time that he or she no longer remembers or understands the worlds contained in a child's chalk art. The world must be a bleak place indeed when you have given up on the dreams of the child you were.


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easywriter said...

We have had similar happenings here with people complaining about children writing or drawing with sidewalk chalk. In one case it was a hopscotch game that the neigbourhood kids were playing and it just kept growing and growing till it covered a full block. It was washed away too and a ticket was given. Sad eh? Children are remarkable and I'm happy to hear that yours are allowed to exercise their right to art. And you too. :O) That little girl sounds like a real gem I wonder what she will grow up to be?

Andrea Paulsen said...

People do get awfully silly about such things, I agree. Chalk is nothing, it is here one day and gone the next. No one drives down your street and thinks you are not nice people because you have chalk drawings on your sidewalk. Some people really need to take a good long look at what they worry about.
There are a lot of things worth worrying about, and kids drawing on the sidewalk isn't one of them.

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