Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Blue Tree

This is something I wrote for a writing course. The assignment was to write about a character who needs to learn to stop asking for help:

  “Can you help me out?” Danny asked. I looked down at him. What is it now? He’s asked me for help five times in the past ten minutes.
  “I want you to draw a tree so I can trace it,” Danny said, holding out a piece of paper and a pencil.
  “Danny, Grandma will want you to have drawn the picture, not me,” I said. “I already helped you draw the cow.”
  “But I can’t draw a good tree,” said Danny. “You do it and I’ll trace it.”
  Even when you’re busy it’s hard to resist five-year-old blue eyes. I sighed and took the pencil and paper.
  “Danny, you’re going to have to learn to draw your own trees and cows and barns and windmills someday,” I said as I sat down at the table.

  Danny leaned into me and watched as I began to sketch the trunk. “You’re the best at it,” he said.
  Yeah, and the way I learned was by actually doing it, I muttered to myself. I gave the tree a few squiggly lines to suggest foliage and handed Danny the paper. “There you go. And try to do it yourself next time.”
  Danny took the drawing with a big, gap-toothed smile. “Thank you!” he said, dashing into the living room where his crayons and paper were strewn all over the wood floor.
  I went back to making dinner, but I hadn’t yet gotten the water for the steamed green beans to boil before Danny was back.  “Can you help me out?”
I looked down into his hopeful little face. “What is it now?” There may have been a bit of annoyance in my voice.
  He held out a handful of crayons. “What color should I use for the tree?”
  “What color do you think you should use?”
 He hesitated, then went with a safe answer. “I don’t know.”
  I took a deep breath. This is going too far. He’s got to make up his own mind.  “I’m not going to help you with coloring your picture, Danny. You decide by yourself.”
  He stared at me for a moment. “But what color should I use?”
  I shrugged. “Figure it out. Think about what colors Grandma likes and what colors trees are. Use colors you like. You don’t need me to decide for you.”
  Danny frowned and went back into the living room with a bit of a pout on his little mouth. But there were no more interruptions from where my youngest brother was drawing a picture for Grandma, and I had almost forgotten about it when he came back into the kitchen, beaming with pride, displaying his picture for my approval. I took the paper.
  Blue tree. Purple cow. John Deere green barn. Purple windmill.
  “Grandma likes purple and green and blue,” Danny said. “Her house is green.”
  I smiled down at him. “Beautiful, Danny. Grandma will love it.”
Danny took his picture back and gave me a huge grin.
  “Thanks!” he said.

(I don’t really have a five year old brother. But I have had siblings who want me to do their artwork for them.)