Erma looooooves art, so when a coworker mentioned a monthly activity at the Plains Art Museum, I signed us up. This month, following the opening of an Andy Warhol exhibit on Myths, the Kid Quest was to design superhero capes.
“Do you want to make a cape?” I asked her the day before the event.
Just making sure.
Then she asked me every five minutes when we were going to go. When when when when? I looooove four-year-old levels of excitement.
“You sure are excited about the capes!” I noted.
“YEAHHHHH,” she agreed.
On a snowy, frigid Saturday afternoon, there was only one spot left on the museum’s street. The parking lot was full. Once we blew in the front doors, we saw lots and lots and lots of people were inside, warming up, looking at pieces of blue paper, and chattering about the quest.
Oh, the quest. Yes, this was not any kind of usual kid activity, such as yoga at the library. (So. Typical.) No, this was a three-parter.
First, we had to follow a set of directions (and many, many, many stairs — I almost died — got to the top and the elevator door I hadn’t seen opened right next to us) to the Warhol exhibit. We looked at screenprints of Superman, Howdy Doody, the Wicked Witch of the West, Dracula. Then we sat down to read the next part.
What would your superhero name be? What would your super powers be? How would you help people?
We answered the questions, then followed some circles to a checkpoint. Once Erma’s passport was stamped in, we attended a live screenprint demonstration before entering a studio.
Erma picked a blue felt ribbon and received her cape. We sat down at a table packed with markers, scissors, vinyl stickers, and kids.
Erma wasted no time bringing her superhero to life. She colored. She cut. She stuck. She decorated. It was like all the ideas must have been at the forefront of her brain the moment she picked her superhero name.
“Okay, I’m done,” she said. “Can you put it on me?”
I tied the cape around Erma’s neck, and she was no longer Erma. She was RAINBOW GIRL, grower of flowers and fixer of houses!
We said hello to some friends we met along the way, got her passport stamped on the final exit, and I told her we were ready to go home.
“Awww,” she said, her mouth clenching into a pout.
“What is wrong?” I asked her. “Didn’t you have fun doing art?” I could feel myself becoming exasperated, with that four-year-old way of hers in which I feel like I turned the world into an amazing place and she has somehow still been disappointed.
“Erma! I don’t understand why you are getting so sad and upset.”
“How come we have to go home?” she asked, and she started to cry.
“Because we finished the quest. So now we go home.”
“I don’t want to go home.”
I started to feel this eureka moment. She LOOOOOVED the art museum. “But we finished the quest. Do you understand that?”
“Yeah,” she said. “But when are we going to make the cakes?”
A slight communication, justified disappointment. If I thought I was getting cake and it never appeared, I would be pretty sad, too.
Too bad she didn’t know a cake superhero.