It was time to go upstairs for bed, but Arlo was feeling inspired and asked politely to have a couple of minutes to finish a card he had started that day in Kindergarten. “I made the front of the card in Ms. Ashley’s class. It’s for you,” he said, sealing the deal, and since I had a few more dishes to do I agreed to let him stay downstairs to work. It was the sweetest scene: this boy sat there holding his pencil in his fist the way you’d hold a screwdriver, the way I’ve given up trying to reform, sounding out the words he was trying to write. I cut the water to listen because last time he’d written something that none of us, including him, could decipher, he flew into a fit of pique. I wanted him to feel confident and encouraged in learning to read and write, so I tuned in lest that unsavory situation recur. Here is the front of the card:
And this is the message inside:
It says, and I’m really glad I paid attention while he was writing, “I am thankful for you because you do so much for us.” Well, my heart just about grew wings and flew me directly to a comfortable spot on cloud nine. Arlo frequently expresses gratitude, but he’d never written me a card like this! And what a likeness! My hair really does resemble that rendering most days! And I don’t know what’s in the pan I’m holding, but his depiction of the gas range is dead on.
“Arlo!” I said. “This makes me so happy! Thank you. I love it and will put it on the refrigerator so I can see it all the time. I wonder what gave you the idea to make a card like this for me!” He grabbed his stuffed animals and began dutifully trudging upstairs. “Ms. Ashley said we should,” he said. Oh. Well, there it is. Turns out his sweet gesture, while still sweet, was the fulfillment of an assignment his teacher had suggested they accomplish. I wanted to laugh for a second but then I had a very serious thought: this child is really good at homework. Cloud nine, I’m back! That note is definitely going on the fridge.