So today I arrive to pick up my daughter from pre-k as the children and their parents are all making their way outside. When Rhonda catches my attention and says “I have one for you today.” From her tone, I knew I was in for a doozie.
When Rhonda was no longer busy with another family she told me how the class had been playing with play doh. Then she continued on.
…informing me that my daughter, of all the things in the world she could have created, that my daughter made a penis.
Yep. A penis.
Instinctively my hands flew to my mouth.
Of course, it had to be MY daughter.
I then picked my eyeballs up off the floor and returned them to their sockets.
Rhonda laughed, and very soon it was just she, Tracy (my daughter’s pre-k teacher heard us out in the hall and came to join our discussion), and myself. Oh the story… the details… the visuals…
When Lily-Ann had explained what she was crafting: “It’s a penis!” They had looked back and forth at one another, neither willing to touch what she’d shared with a ten foot poll. And Rhonda’s use of her hands while telling the story just about had me peeing myself. She showed how the kid had been rolling it out on the table with vigor, how big and thick a piece of play doh she’d used. Oh my.
Now for a bit of back story for clarity:
I am very open. I’ll talk about anything. I believe in being honest and I don’t sugar coat things. So when my daughter was one and a half and began having questions we talked about where babies come from. We talked about how flowers produce seeds, how birds lay eggs, how puppies come to be born, and how she (and other babies) are also born… and how all these things are alike, yet very different. And how even from family to family, everyone has a different birth story.
By the time the kid was two she knew the difference (and proper names) for her parts. And if you ask her, she’ll happily tell you the difference between many different (for some folk, uncomfortable to mention) body parts and whether they are male organs or female organs, where they can be found, and what they’re for. So, I suppose it was only a matter of time before she began sharing her education.
Back to today:
Later, after returning home and settling into our late afternoon routine, I asked the girlie what she made with her play doh. She was completely open and nonchalant about the whole thing. With a shrug, she replied “a penis”. No big deal. Then I heard her Dad walk in the front door, and before we could get any further, she ran off to welcome him home.
So what does my husband get greeted with as soon as he arrives home? Her story, told rather proudly (because it must be important if so many people feel the need to talk about it), about how she made a penis at school. But it was okay since “it didn’t look like a real one because I made it orange.”
If nothing else, the girlie now knows that just like we shouldn’t talk about our vulva at the grocery store we also shouldn’t make a play doh penis at school. Valuable lessons that we wish we’d thought to teach PRIOR to it becoming very evident that we needed to teach them.
I wonder what she’ll teach me I should have taught her next.
I’ve lost track of the times I’ve shot at Mitchell Memorial Garden (the old Labatts Garden). How many children or dogs have posed with the sculpture of Fred Mitchell and the little girl? I honestly couldn’t tell you off the top of my head. If nothing else, it serves as the meeting point for myself and many of my clients – and inevitably ends up the topic of conversation.
Today I arrived at the garden a little early for my early evening shoot. Everything started out pretty normally. I walked through the garden, noting any changes since the last time I was there (a couple of days previously). I picked up a couple of pieces of garbage and threw them away. I then went to my favourite bench, pulled out my iPad, and began writing to pass the time waiting for my 4:15.
A man arrived at the park. Carrying an armload of supplies. He set them all down next to the sculpture. We smiled at one another, and he set to work. Cleaning and waxing the 10 year old art piece that I know so well (heck, I even have wedding pictures that were taken with it). I put down my iPad, picked up my camera, and walked over to ask if I could photograph him.
“Not me, but them? Certainly.”
I laughed, and explained that I had photographed them many times before. That it was him I was hoping to capture. That I was so happy to see the white-out gone from their eyes, and their former glory restored… the weathered white lines disappearing with the application of wax. He grinned, and looked like he had a great secret. “I’m the sculptor you know.” I didn’t know.
The two of us talked for a few minutes. He told me about some of his other works that are on display here in Saskatoon, and about one that is in Regina. We talked cameras too – turns out we both shoot with the same model, and both have our eye on the same lens for our next purchase. We both like heavy glass. He told me how he was a Dutch immigrant, how he came here when he was 7 years old. Spoke no English, but was thrust into the school system only a few weeks after landing… and how terrifying that was.
I snapped a few pictures as we chatted, and as he worked.
Then my 4:15 arrived. I walked them through the garden. Shared my favourite spots to shoot family portraits there. And asked what they thought. As I began shooting, my new sculptor friend walked over and asked for my name (he’d already written his down for me, and it never occurred to me to share mine with him). I gave him my card. And I have to admit, I hope he looks me up. I wouldn’t mind having another chance to talk – without concerns of being pulled away.
Meet Hans Holtkamp, a fascinating man – not used to being the subject of someone else’s art: