When I was at the border in June and July, someone had the brilliant idea to spread out blank paper and crayons on the ground at El Chaparral for kids to draw. Kids come to El Chaparral at 6 a.m. every morning with their parents, waiting for their number to be called. It’s early. Many of them are hungry, and there is absolutely nothing for them to do. Some of them are there day after day. Still, they are patient and you rarely hear kids cry. Mitchell and River bring a big vat full of a nutritious drink they concoct that they give to everyone there, free of charge. The crayons and paper are right next to it. It took a little while, but finally some kids shyly picked up a crayon and began to draw. More kids joined them. Some were hesitant to leave their parents’ side, so in such cases a parent would often come over to join them.
Here’s what I observed in all mornings of watching kids draw there. No judgment; I just found it interesting. No kids fought over crayons. No kids threw crayons. No kids peeled the paper off or broke crayons. Even the littlest children were so careful with them. I saw one boy choose four colors and arrange them in a perfect line right next to his paper. They treated them carefully and put them back in the box when they were done. Older kids patiently shared their crayons with their younger siblings and encouraged them.
Almost all the kids drew family portraits encased in a heart or, many times, happy pictures of houses with pointy roofs, the quintessential house that most five-year-olds in this country draw! But why were these kids drawing the same architecture of house with pointy roofs, chimneys, a sidewalk, sun in the top right corner of the paper, a couple trees, and windows with four panes on each side of the door? They aren’t houses they would be used to seeing. When I asked a friend of mine in her fifties who grew up in Mexico, she said she learned to draw houses like that in school, so maybe that’s the answer. It’s easy to teach. Draw a square. Put a triangle on top. Add a little rectangle for a chimney. It’s fascinating. At least to me.
I’ll post some of the drawings on the website so you can see for yourself. We also have a few art materials in La Casa, and some kids drew pictures when they were there. We are putting all art up on the living wall and will continue to add to it!