A Random Image

Jett Superior laid this on you on || December 26, 2010 || 1:02 am

Mathias used to get in trouble for not writing ‘properly’. His first-grade teacher upbraided him consistently for drawing stovepipe hats onto his ohs, for making his tees grab hold of a clutch of balloons, for mother birds dropping worms into the gaping maws of vees. The alphabet became a vibrant host of characters under his hand over and over again, just as it had ever since he was three or thereabouts.

Finally I wrote her a terse little missive

Please stop stomping all over Mathias’ creativity, for God’s sake.

in an even more authoritative hand than her own bitchy little flowery notes to my kid. There was a conference. I won. The details of that victory are unimportant.

Last year, when we staged an Epic Superior Invasion of New York City as a long-scrimped-for Christmas surprise for the children, we were delighted to find that there was a Tim Burton exhibit at the MoMA. Tim Burton is Mathias’  absolute hero in the creative maelstrom department. We wandered the exhibit and at one point Mathias stood in front of a piece mounted in the hallway, studying it intently. He took half a dozen pictures of this one thing alone. When I moved in closer behind him, wondering what he was focusing so much of his energy on, my insides smiled large.

It was a desk blotter covered with a myriad of fanciful creatures, elaborate scribbles and letters made into all manner of things. Characters of the characters, if you will. Mathias’ own brand of genius was vindicated. The details of that victory are important.


::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Every year I address a slew of Christmas cards to friends and family. This is time-consuming, but I love it and therefore I put in the effort. When the children got old enough to join in, I put a pen in their hand and asked them to sign alongside mine and Maxim’s names. Mathias was just a tiny thing when he asked to be included, with an inability to yet write his name but completely capable of putting his own personality onto those cards. It took extra time, but I dug in and put my patience into overdrive (no mean feat, I assure you) so that Mathias could contribute.

The older he got, the more involved his card signing got, so that I had to abandon our loose assembly line where the five of us ringed the table, the children and Maxim with their pens ready while I oversaw the process of  cards staying paired with their respective envelopes. There was a four-person correspondence line and Mathias had his own separate time with which to carefully pen his name and a wild imagining or two. Nobody got frustrated that way, and the youngest got to indulge the creative impulse that seems to be his constant and unwavering companion.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve found my Christmas cards in the off season. I get some really lovely cards at extremely discounted rates this way. I found this year’s sometime in March, I think. They were the finest ones I’ve ever purchased, made of beautiful heavy stock with a glossy photo of stretched across four accordion-folded panels. The picture featured four of the gorgeous Neapolitan angels that grace the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Christmas tree each year. The inside verse read, ‘…there is joy in the presence of the angels… Luke 15:10′ and included a description of the angels and their history.

By the time Mathias finished with the cards, they were significantly more spicy. One featured a googly-eyed Santa with a speech balloon declaring it a ‘Merry Crunkmas’. I thought my favorite one must be the one where he edited the aforementioned scripture to read, ‘…there is joy in the presence of the angels….AND PANCAKES.’ until I saw the very last one I was sliding into an envelope. It was to my parents.

victim of joy

I hope you are a victim of joy in the coming year. I hope joy wraps itself around you, rucks up your skirt and manhandles you like it has quietly desired you for a long time and finally decided to unleash the full force of itself on you.

And I hope it feeds you pancakes in the morning.

20 worked it out »

  1. Cheryl 12.26.2010

    The victim mentality took a long time to work through. That said, I’ll happily embrace being a victim of joy.

    Wishing y’all a year where peace, love, and joy come barrelling down the road into your hearts.

  2. René 12.26.2010

    Oh man, this is so good.

    The sledgehammer of joy upon all your tender and Superior skulls this year. Yeehaw.


  3. EarnestGirl 12.26.2010

    love the way you honour and fan your son’s creativity.

    love that you fought for it.

    may i pin your last paragraph into the little scrapbook i carry in my left ventricle; tuck it into a ribbon on the notice board of my soul?

    thank you for this, for that paragraph, for your gorgeous words. may joy ambush you and your family in 2011.

  4. leel 12.27.2010

    Sweet validation of that kind, at that age, after that rediculous BS at school, is truly the sweetest of sweet. I love that there are people out there, like YOU, that fight for their children’s creativity in a system that often punishes and ultimately extinguishes the flame. And what a kid you have there. AWESOME cards!

    And yes, that last paragraph, WOW.

    Thanks for sharing this! Smooches.

  5. Chibi Jeebs 12.27.2010

    LOVE it. And now I kinda wanna go make letter creatures… :)

  6. fridita (just a grrl) 12.27.2010

    This pleases me to me to no end. The whoooooole thing. Absolutely love it. May we all be victims this coming year…

  7. Chris Robinson 12.27.2010

    I sure do like the boy’s style. When I was a kid, I saw a copy of the Book of Kells. It was transcribed by Irish monks who did not know the language and so they were spending their days shaping letters and forming words they could not read or understand. Of course this would get boring, and to amuse themselves they started illustrating the manuscript. On a page you’ll find a little face peering out in the margin. Or they would scribble down a verse to a traditional song. I still love this. (A most happy and healthy new year to the entire Superior family. Hope this will be a great one for you especially.)

  8. Ahhh, this made me very happy. It also made me cry a little bit. And not entirely because I am full of the raging hormones right now, but more so because of the beautiful way it made me feel.


  9. Ells 12.27.2010

    What a great mom. What a cool kid.

    I love it when things work out that way.

    Also, I love it when I am victimized by angelic happiness. Mmmm.

  10. Homemaker Man 12.27.2010

    Heh. Just watching Charlie and The Chocolate Factory when I came upon this. Just cool.

  11. BEEJ 12.28.2010

    Just love you. That is all.

  12. Ann's Rants 12.29.2010

    Man. I love how you’ve made this a family affair.

    Also I would kill for your vocabulary and lack of cliches.

    The end.

  13. TwoBusy 12.30.2010

    Pancakes and assault by joy. Sounds like the boy’s got a pretty good handle on the holiday thing.

    As always: this was lovely.

  14. Seaweed 12.30.2010

    I adore your family and your way of raising your kids. This so reminded me . . . when my two were young, I used to sing improvisations of “You Are My Sunshine” to them, changing the Sunshine to different things, mainly foods like pancakes and french fries, cookies, and cupcakes. “You are My Pancake, my only Pancake, you make me HAAApy when I’m hungryyyy, you’ll never knoooow dear, how much I luuuuuv you. Please don’t taaaake, my paaaancake awaaaay!”

  15. And my New Year has a new purpose. Thanks, Jett, and here’s to unsquashed creativity for all.

  16. Alexandra 1.3.2011

    Best Xmas wish Ev-Er.

    Thank you.

  17. Mr Lady 1.5.2011

    I got stuck on the first paragraph, mostly because I really, really need to steal that line. If one more person stomps on my kid’s creativity, I may cut a bitch.

    Lovely as always, girl.

  18. anastasia 1.15.2011

    Man, joy is some kinda sex-ay in the Superior house. I think I’ll carry that description with me all year…and I wish the same for you, too, mama.

    [I love the way you parent, by the way - you're incredible at this.]

  19. Troutie 1.17.2011

    Tim Burton is exactly what I pictured when you described Mathias’ zoomorphic alphadoodles. Glad he was vindicated.

    Now, how does one score a spot on your card list?

  20. V. 2.8.2011

    “…quietly desired you…”

    I’ll just keep my lips locked and wish you and yours a belated and joyous New Year.


RSS feed for comments on this post.

(you know you want to)