Jack Handey characterized the frankness of children thusly: "The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face." But frankness in childhood expression doesn't stop with speech.
The thing I enjoy most about finding uncommissioned artwork my children have created is how surprising it can be. Unlike the feeble gimmicks commonly called shock art, these pieces shock and arouse adults with an honest portrayal of reality from a child's perspective, even when the subject matter is derivative and the talent undeveloped.
The world contains terror alongside beauty and innocence, and Charles Schulz would agree. His comics are full of the fantastic such as Charlie Brown's clothes being removed by a line drive or Snoopy flying atop his doghouse. Being somewhat familiar with these famous images, I was nevertheless unnerved by my 11-year-old son's interpretation of a rather helpless Charlie Brown being terrorized by a Lucy who is twice his size and relentlessly pummeling him with a sound-cloud of insults.
"Stupid, dope, wishy-washy, lame, weak, dumb, lousy, wimp, idiot!" I asked my son about the picture; I said "Wow, this looks more like child abuse than a Peanuts comic. I've never felt so bad for Charlie Brown. Is she actually picking him up?" He just sort of smiled and calmly explained that Lucy is indeed picking Charlie Brown up, shaking him up and down, and yelling those names at him.
Lucy isn't just a mean, bossy girl here. She's an evil thug with ugliness to match. Charlie Brown isn't just the neighborhood loser. He's a victim of violence....
His sketch probably suffers a bit from insecurity and girl-fear in his 11-year-old mind, but probably not an abnormal amount. He recently played Charlie Brown in his school's production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, and perhaps his artwork was his way of helping himself relate to the character. I hope I'm worrying too much about his state-of-mind, fear of bossy girls, etc. and I'm fairly sure I am. My world is full of surprises, and I'm much more hopeful for my 11-year-old son than I am for Charlie Brown.
Here's to good surprises in the New Year.