He tries so hard to hold it together. Biting his lip and blinking back, eraser angry - vindictive spelling mistake leering from scarred page, curled like a tissue as his eyes begin to leak. Desperate to create. Even artists need time. He sees that now but he fights against it with trembling chin. He wants to do it all and he's only left himself two days. I'm trying not to hurt for him. I sit across the table. Place my hand over the paper - torn like his spirit.
"Look at me."
His eyes are red and shinning and tears trace trails around his freckles and he's still that baby boy I used to rock and hold no matter how big he is now.
"If it's not fun, it's not worth it."
He can't respond because his chest is heaving.
I wanted him to learn self-motivation. I wanted him to take ownership of this project, this showing at the local fair - this creating from a list for a judge.
"Are you having fun?"
He shakes his head.
"You don't have to enter everything. Choose the ones you want to do and forget about the rest."
"But...I...want...to...win...most...points." He stumbles around each word, choking on frustration.
"Wouldn't you rather do really well on a few things instead of just okay on everything?"
"I...want...to...win...most...points." But he looks down at the mess in front of him, the Homecoming Harvest Party invitation and menu that says "pumkin" and "turky" and he shutters through another breath and one last tear escapes. "Okay."
He asks if I can help him make a candle.
We dig through my candle box. Make piles of each colour he wants. Tears are forgotten as we watch the wax liquify in a tin plate on the stove, fascinated by the process of soft and hard - the melting and the pouring and the waiting and the melting. Wax spills across the stove top but it doesn't matter because he's laughing and we're doing it together and it's fun. He creates beauty - this little light of mine - and he's proud.
Then, looking at the leftover coils of wick we see new ideas and I get him some paper and he re-dips each string and lays it upon paper just so and from this garbage chaos comes art. Art worthy of a fair and after that a prominent wall in my home.