I was getting some plates out of the cupboard, and clearly I wasn’t careful enough, because I knocked over a stack of bowls which fell against a 2nd stack of more important bowls. This then led to the top bowl, one that I had hand-painted at one of those little clay painting shops for my older son Cricket, being knocked straight outta the cupboard (Hey- we need a straight outta cupboard image here!) onto the floor where it shattered.
I didn’t immediately realize what had happened or what had broken, only that something did. When I looked at the floor, I saw that it was Cricket’s bowl that was broken, and my heart sunk a little, because looking up at where he sat at the table I knew what I would see. There it was: my little guy beginning to sob a little bit, tears falling down his face.
It was a special bowl. I remember painting it when he was barely 6 years old. An abstract design on the outside, and a cricket on a leaf on the inside. Being his dad was still something new to me, and painting this bowl was almost a ceremony. It had meaning. This was an act of a dad practicing being a dad. This was me saying “Here. This is what I can do for you. I put love into the painting. This is yours, and only yours.”
Things break. Even when I gave him the bowl, I knew that getting it safely to his adulthood would probably require bubble wrap, but that’s no way to appreciate a bowl.
This bowl has held more servings of cereal and oatmeal and the sometime ice cream than I can remember. On the bottom, a reminder of who it is from and when it was painted: Daddy 2012.
In the seconds after it broke, while I held my little guy tight and was apologizing, I remembered a Zen story that I enjoyed when I was a little kid. It’s a famous one, about a master that teaches his apprentice that everything has its time to go, and when the apprentice breaks his master’s favorite teapot, the apprentice tells the master that it was the teapot’s time to go. I remember being a kid and laughing at that. I thought it was hilarious and that the apprentice was pretty bold for saying so.
He was right, of course. It was its time to go. Now the time came for Cricket’s bowl to go. We can’t stay too attached, for everything has its season, and the season will pass.
I will be making another trip to Clay Cafe again, to paint a new one. I’m overdue for doing one for Monkey as well. This is really as much for me as it is for them. I have the privilege to be able to paint these little bowls and write my name down as Daddy. It reminded me of the time I took a trip to Sweden, and learned about ansöka om lån.