Thursday, March 17, 2011

Art from the Heart

The girls and I have discovered a wonderful multigenerational art/music class that meets once-a-month in a luxurious retirement complex around the corner from our house. It's super-mellow, non-competitive, fun and free. Residents and kids participate in the classes together; sharing paint brushes, peeling stickers, twirling with scarves, singing, holding hands and tickling bellies.

We usually arrive like a hurricane; me, the crazed working mom, trying to straddle two worlds at once and not doing a very good job in either of them. Lucie, bouncing into the room ahead of me, fearless, full of noisy energy, and posing a serious threat to hips everywhere. Violet alternates between going limp on the floor because she didn't get to put on her shoes by herself and hanging from my clothes and demanding "Up! Up! Up!" thirty-six times.

And then. I flop down and stare as Lucie shuffles around the circle, picking up the hand of each resident and, stopping just short of a curtsy, greets them, "How do you do?" I'm frozen as I look around at the faces of the seniors which hold no judgment, only a knowing smile. "One day," I imagine them thinking, "when your mind has time too much time to wander and your life is predictable, quiet and all your own, you'll miss this."

So we sing. And dance. And paint. And occasionally tickle.

I go to honor my grandparents, to "give back" for all that I've been given, and always leave with a renewed appreciation for the innocence of childhood and deep respect for those who have walked this path before. My kids go because they want to be there, and I LOVE that they want to be a part of it. (It also helps that visiting children are treated like prized commodities in adult communities.)

So I try not to worry about the Alzheimer resident that Lucie has just "decorated" with green paint, I'll smile and nod with the Grandmas as they fret about being late for dinner (at 2pm!), and I’ll start plans immediately for a storage shed to hold all of the treasures being created here.

Most important, though, I'll make time to dance with my kids and kiss my husband, because he's not going to look this good forever. And I won't forget to wear sunscreen while doing it.