Saturday, December 06, 2008

Savant

I got to accompany the Monkey and his class on a field trip to the National Gallery yesterday. The National Gallery is a fabulous place...but a bit of an odd choice to take a bunch of wiggly 6 year olds. And it's an odder choice for a bunch of wiggly six year olds who haven't had a snack that morning. By the second painting they were all walking slow and whining about being hungry and bored and miserable.

Then we "accidentally" saw Rubens' Daniel and the Lions' Den and they all stood transfixed for awhile.

The Monkey was not a particularly model child on the trip. He was whiney and couldn't understand why I wasn't paying exclusive attention to him. Why won't you hold my hand? You're talking to Ike and Zollie more than me! I'm hungry. I'm tired. This is so. boring. Can I sit on your lap? Why won't you sit by me? You're not smiling...you should be smiling. I don't wanna stand with my class. I wanna be by you!

By the third painting, I was resolved that I would never chaperone another field trip for him again ever. Gah!

We had a sit-down for Mary Cassat's Little Girl In a Blue Armchair and talked about impressionism for awhile. The guide asked all kinds of questions about what was the girl thinking...what colors do you see...does the furniture look funny to you... The Monkey wasn't even facing the picture. He kept inching closer toward me...playing with the designs on the floor...tapping out a little tune with his hands. Seriously, the kid had checked out.

I gave up and started studying the painting. The guide asked the kids if any part of the painting looked different...as though maybe the artist had someone else paint that part. One little kid mentioned again that the dog looked tired. I'm trying to figure out what looks odd (aside from the fact that she didn't appear to finish the bottom...the canvas is showing through). A little boy walked up to tell the guide that his lip was bleeding (this was, incidentally, the third time he'd randomly wandered up to an adult to announce this fact). The guide turned back to the group with a bit of a pleading look. Out of nowhere, the Monkey's hand went up.

At this point I'm enjoying a little moment of parental panic. He's going to talk about dinosaurs. Or spaceships. Or how he's really into recycling. Or maybe about the wood floor he's been studying. Oh geez. I'm mostly just hoping that whatever random off-topic thing he's got to add is at least mildly humorous so as to stave off a bit of the chagrin.

The guide, thrilled that someone *other* than the little girl in the front row who has answered every. single. question. is volunteering, calls on the Monkey. He, very matter of factly, says "Um...yes, the thing that's different in the painting from the rest is the floor."

My jaw dropped as the overjoyed guide told us that yes, in fact, the floor is different. The theory is that Cassat and Degas were friends and Degas may have painted the floor...

Either my child A) is very lucky...B) has better listening skills than I've previously given him credit for....or C) is an art savant. Kinda nifty!

1 comment:

J.Bro said...

Either you're absolutely right about his savant-ness (savant-itude? savant-erity?) or there's a difference that comes across in person more than online, because I can't see it even when I know what I'm looking for.