I sometimes say that I attended Art School. When I was about 8, my parents signed my siblings and me up for summer kids’ art classes at a local college. I’m pretty sure that counts, right? 

They were planned and taught by college kids.  It was the 60’s, so most of the stuff we worked on was pretty trippy, hippy-ish and sort of out there:  Batik on paper with melted crayons, tie-dye coffee filters and peace-sign dreamcatchers.  One especially sixties-ish project was a candlestick holder – a wine bottle on which we glued bits of cut-out cardboard, covered tight with aluminum foil and burnished with black ink and paint. 

My clearest memory from those classes, however, is when our student teacher left the classroom for a few moments on some now forgotten errand or emergency. No adult was sent in to relieve him.  It was just the students.   I was accustomed to strict catholic school nuns as teachers.  They would put in you the corner for hours if you misbehaved. Or worse: they carried sticks back then and were not afraid to use them.  

 I was delighted with this new-found freedom.  They didn’t diagnose kids then like they do today, but I would most assuredly have been found attention deficit disordered.  My feckless mind immediately turned to what an unsupervised classroom offered me.  I cast a restless eye around and, finding nothing better to do, climbed up and started dancing on my desk.  I was having great time, gyrating around like a spastic eel.  The other kids laughed, which only encouraged me.  

Then a large, red-faced, angry professor put his head in the door and told me to get the hell down.  Startled and red-faced, I scrambled off the desk and sat in my chair, thinking I’d be in a lot of trouble.  He turned and walked away.  I blinked. Wait. Walked away?  I couldn’t believe it!  I needn’t have worried. There were no sticks, no standing in corners. Relief flooded through me. I remember feeling very fortunate and decided to behave myself.

As soon as he went away, some of the other kids ran to the chalkboard to puff erasers together. As I watched the chalk dust rise around them, my newfound “good girl” attitude quickly evaporated. I joined them and we joyfully clapped erasers inside giant white clouds.  

Our hapless teacher returned a short time later.  He soon had us settled down again, happily cutting up pieces of cardboard and gluing them to wine bottles.  Looking back on it, I think I would have hated having me as a student.

Art School was fun, but the only lesson I learned there was that I couldn’t wait to get to college. 

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