Making a Masterpiece

“It’s time,” the woman said turning to her husband one night as they watched a show after dinner. “What? Now!” he asked, “it’s too soon!” He was right, this wasn’t supposed to happen for another two months. The panic spread across his face, a blush triggered by fear. “I know,” she said, trying to be as calm as possible “but it’s time, we have to go. Now,” she added.

“Ok… ok… we can do this,” he said as he got off the couch and went off to gather his things.

“We can do this,” she repeated to herself.

The screen before her flashed a scene of some Christmas romance with the hero and heroine finding true love under the mistletoe.

Photo courtesy of Harold Lloyd

“How very cliché,” she said to the TV as she flicked it off. She could hear her husband walking around upstairs, looking for his keys. She spotted them on the table by the door. “Honey,” she called out, “your keys are downstairs by the door.” “Oh, thanks!” he ran back down to her. “How are you feeling?” “I’m ok… nervous… scared… but really, ok.” He brushed a strand of hair away from her face and smiled at her. “I should pack…” she said.

Twenty minutes later, their car hurtled down the highway to the hospital. Traffic was light at this hour and it was a glorious summer night. They drove in silence with the windows rolled down, letting the warmth of the night wrap around them and mingle with their thoughts (and more than a few apprehensions). This was it, this was the night that was going to change their life forever. Hard to wrap one’s mind around that.

The hospital was busy, but the staff was very attentive. They led her to a room, gave her a gown and ten minutes later the nurses had hooked her up and were monitoring what looked like a normal and healthy labor. “Everything looks great,” the nurse said. “Even though it’s two months earlier than we had expected?” “Yes… sometimes that happens, the baby will be small but, from the looks of it, healthy. Don’t worry.”

Two hours had passed without consequence when suddenly the doctor and three nurses rushed into her room. “Ok, honey, this is it… time to blow.” They handed her a tiny shriveled blue balloon. “It’s a boy?” she asked, tears brimming in her eyes. “It’s a boy!” the nurse smiled, “now blow!”

The woman took the scrap of balloon and began to blow. “You need to blow harder, take a deep breath and blow for a count of ten. Ready?” The woman filled her lungs, “1…2…3… 10 and release!” The woman looked down, the little balloon was starting to inflate, her heart began beating fast. She looked over at her husband, he was grinning from ear to ear. “Ok, let’s do this again,” the doctor said as the nurse wiped the woman’s forehead. “Ready?”

It took close to 45 minutes for the blue balloon to fully inflate but when it did, it was glorious. A sparkling blue that rivaled any clear summer sky.

Photo Courtesy of Mary Mactavish

“Our work’s not done yet!” the doctor said. “Dad, do you want to do the mache?” “Ummm….” he hesitated. “Yeah, sure.” A nurse wheeled over a cart covered in a blue cloth. On the cloth was a bowl of paste and hundreds of strips of paper. “Ready?” The nurse held out a strip for the husband.

He was the picture of pride, wrapping his baby boy in paper mache. Every strip was lovingly smoothed out before the next one was added and he made sure to cover the whole balloon evenly. When he was done, even the nurses agreed that they had never seen such a lovely baby.

The next three days were a blur. The new parents had a lot to learn about carrying for their baby boy. “What if I drop him?” the Dad asked as the nurse handed him the tiny ball of almost-hardened balloon. “Babies are made of rubber, didn’t you know?” she winked at him, “you’ll be fine.” “Can he get wet?” the new Mother asked. “Give him a few more days before you bathe him, he won’t be getting too dirty anyhow. Once he’s fully hardened, you can start with a washcloth and gradually work your way up to a bath.” They had many questions, as new parents do, and the staff answered them all.

When the three days were up, the nurse came in to discharge them. She handed them an exit form and a box of crayons.

Photo from the beautiful art of Christian Faur

“What are these for?” the Mother asked. “Today begins the most challenging part of this experience  for you will now start to color your baby. It will be your job to fill his life with beauty and form, to surround him with a multitude of patterns, shapes, color and movement. As your baby grows older, you will need to teach him how to color on his own, where to find inspiration and how to use it to create beauty. Your most important job will be teaching him how to make a masterpiece out of his life.”

The new parents looked at each other. “We can do this,” the happy Dad said to his wife as he cradled his infant boy in his arms. “We can do this,” she said, taking the box of crayons.

They walked out hand-in-hand (how very cliché, right?)

… and this is where we leave the happy family, at least for now. They will need some time to get to know each other and begin working on this most important task.

All content is copyrighted by Karla Valenti. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is expressly forbidden.

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