Night Owl

This is the fourth of my “Advent Calendar” Christmas ornament posts. For some background information about this project and why I’m challenging myself to complete it, see here. Note: it’s entirely possible some of these memories are inexact, but I’m sticking with them anyway.


I surveyed the yellow options and selected “Dandelion” from the pack. Slowly, I drew a neat circle, filling its middle in with even pressure. The orb of my sun completed, I reached for blunt-tipped “Orange”. It took a sharper point to get the rays just right, so I peeled back the thin paper and twisted the crayon carefully in the sharpener embedded in the back of the box. Humming, I swung my feet back and forth as I drew.
“All right, honey, bedtime.” Mom approached the table, cradling her coffee mug in both hands. “Go brush your teeth.”
I looked up from my paper.
“I can’t, Mom. I have homework.”
“In kindergarten?”
“Yeah, Mrs. W wants us to draw pictures and then we’re all going to bring our pictures to class tomorrow and show them to the class and talk about them to everyone.”
“Well, you look like you’re almost done. Five minutes, then teeth.”
“But Mom, I have to do more.”
“More? How many more?”
“TEN!” I held up both hands, fingers spread, to show her just how many.
Mom put down her coffee cup. The spoon rattled. She sat in the chair next to mine and spoke at my level.
“There is no way your teacher wants you to do ten pictures tonight. You must have heard wrong.”
I panicked.
“But I’ll get in trouble, Mom! I need to do my homework!” A lip trembled. Tears threatened.
Mom looked over at Dad, standing in the kitchen doorway. He shrugged. Mom shook her head. I sniffed, put a white page on top of my drawing, and started my next picture. A nice juicy red, for an apple…

Three pictures past my bedtime, Mom pushed her chair from the table and stood up.

“This is insane. She’s six.” She walked across the living room to where the phone hung from the wall. She flipped through the little notebook on the side table, picked up the handset, and dialed. My legs stopped swinging.

“Hello, Mrs. W? I’m Jennifer’s mother… I’m calling about the homework that Jennifer’s working on tonight. I realize she’s taking some classes with the first-graders now, but this seems an excessive amount for her age.”
A pause.
“The drawings… she’s doing the ten pictures she has to talk about in class tomorrow.”
A longer pause.
Mom turned to look at my father, raised an eyebrow, and turned to me. I shifted uncomfortably and looked down at my pile of crayons.
“I see.” Mom turned back towards the phone. “Well. I’m very sorry I bothered you.”
She hung up and crossed her arms across her chest. I looked really hard at my crayons. I tensed, ready for some yelling. Instead, incredibly, I heard Mom laugh.
“You got me, kiddo. Now put those crayons in the box and we’ll talk about this tomorrow. Teeth. Bed. Hustle.”

6 thoughts on “Night Owl

  1. Anonymous

    I remember that as if it was yesterday and behind the laughter then was “that’s one smart cookie, I’ll have my work cut out for me”. I still laugh about it and have told friends about this incident. Luv you kiddo, Mom


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