Dear friends,

We all know that watching our kids grow up is a magical experience. When they’re infants, it seems like they’re hitting a milestone every time we turn around. Their first smile, the first time they roll over, first teeth, first solid food…but as they start to get a little older these milestones are fewer and farther between. Now that my son Clayton is two, I’ve started noticing that some of these important moments have become more stretched out over time. Luckily, as an employee of the Children’s Museum of the East End, I get to witness some of these moments when Clay comes to visit me at work.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been watching him working on his draftsmanship skills. Being an artist myself, we color a lot in our house. There are crayons everywhere, and it’s hard to find a piece of paper anywhere that doesn’t have scribbles all over it. Lately though, those scribbles have started to evolve. First I noticed that he had slowed down a little bit. Instead of erratically scratching all over the page with the crayon, he had started moving more deliberately– up and down, side to side, and even around in circles. I saw him doing this and I thought to myself, “Well that’s kind of cool,” and moved on with my day. A few days later, he drew a few lines on the paper, looked up at me, and said “Tree!” He then continued with another series of lines, which he followed with “Fish!” Now of course, his tree and fish looked practically nothing like either object, but this proud mommy could totally make that stretch and appreciate his abstract representation. I’m convinced that “Tree! Fish!” will someday sell for millions at a Christie’s auction.


“Tree! Fish!” by Clayton Altagracia, 2018


Last week, Clayton and his Nonna, my mom, came to visit me at work at CMEE. I went into the exhibits to play with them a little bit, and of course we ended up in the Art Studio. It’s one of Clay’s favorite parts of the Museum; since we don’t really have a space for him to paint at home, he only really gets to do it here. He seems to love the ritual of putting on his smock, sitting himself at the table, and picking out his colors. When he sat down, I was expecting his usual smearing of the paint all over the paper until it became a muddy mess, a style that I believe all parents of toddlers are familiar with. I did not get what I expected.

Instead, I found myself in awe of something that, to anyone else, would seem mundane, but to me was something spectacular. He’d made a series of dots on the paper with his red paintbrush, and then covered each one with a purple dot, then yellow, then green. The whole process was so deliberate and he was being so careful.  I was blown away!

These are the moments that we live for. In between the tantrums of the terrible twos, we parents have to appreciate the little things (and brag about them of course!). At first, they’re much easier to notice. As time goes by you sometimes have to look a little closer to see them, but once you do, you’ll find your heart is full.

Sarah Altagracia
Facilities and Exhibits Coordinator

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