I pulled up to El Precario to drop the kids off. One girl was reluctant to hop down out of the van.
“I don’t want to leave,” she said, her eyes penetrating mine.
We had spent a hectic afternoon at the library, in my opinion at least.
First of all, I had too many kids. Instead of picking up 6 for a watercolor class, I ended up with 14. (Yes, I need to learn to say no).
Some of the highlights included a little girl wetting her pants; looking over to see two boys rolling on the ground fighting and having to physically break it up; helping children ages 3 to 15 simultaneously create beautiful works of art with watercolors; board games, books and an endless stream of, “Leslie…look at this! Leslie… help me do this!Leslie… watch me! Leslie, Leslie, Leslie….”
And then my own son, Kai (9), decided that he messed up his painting and started to cry.
Time to wrap things up, I thought to myself.
I was feeling hot, frazzled and tired. Was this just a total disaster? It sure felt like it!
But then I look over and see Ana, totally absorbed in painting – she could clearly keep painting for several more hours. And I look at Steven finishing his painting. He’s the 15 year old sleeping on the street. His painting is beautiful and expressive – and, could it be? Is that a smile I see creeping at the corners of his mouth as he looks at it? I ask him to sign it and he scratches his name in the corner. I imagine framing it and hanging it in the library.
And now here’s Chorlin, staring at me, face downcast. She doesn’t want to go home.
I hug her as she hops down and we stay another 45 minutes in the barrio playing with puppies, chatting with moms and greeting kids coming home from school.
So in this type of work what does success look like? I think maybe success is messy ~ maybe it includes some fighting and crying, dripping paint and a constant need for attention. But it’s also hugs and masterpieces. It’s that feeling of accomplishment when you like what you’ve made. It’s love and friendship, chatting, playing and learning.
It’s hearts filling up.