Last Friday, I watched a faint interest bloom into full-fledged fad. I say 'fad,' because I remember the great Infant Room craze of 2003, when seven very small children were interested in no book but the Foot Book, by Dr. Seuss. So yes, fad.
We were in the midst of what my brother has, alas, accurately described as his annual drawing. It was the avuncular birthday, and my older son was enthusiastically drawing his uncle a celebratory picture. 'So what's that,' I ritualistically asked. 'Oh, that's Uncle M- in his house, with his computer. And these are birthday balloons.' I dutifully noted this on the drawing, and my son elected to sign his own name, arranging the letters into a tidy square. Then, fired with inspiration, he pulled down a fresh bit of paper from the roll and started to draw. 'Mmm,' I said, noting in passing that he is no longer drawing potatoes with eyes and limbs. 'And what are those?' 'Men made of clay,' the child explained. This gave me pause. I considered, and then inquired, 'Huh?' 'Like the dreidel, Mummy,' he told me, helpfully. 'And I want to write it.' And so, with me spelling out the letters, he did.
And continued to do so, for the rest of the day. On paper, on the crums on his plate, on the mist on the windows. In fact, I spent part of shabbat morning services reminding him that no, he couldn't write on the sabbath. I'd assumed that he was all fired up from the praise of the employee at our local hardware store, who'd asked for one of the umpteen pictures he'd been drawing of a single man and the word, 'CLAY.' (She knew us from a Childrens Miracle Network event, where she'd entertained a tired boy with lanterns.) But no, this was the start of a fad. He can now draw his own name, my name, my partner's name, and his great-grandmother's nom de famille. And, apparently, this phrase. But this morning he decided to branch out.
'I want to write MEN MADE OF CLAY in a square, not in a line, Mummy.' I laughed and agreed. Square, spiral, pentagon - who am I to argue?