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Middletown Select Soccer Club

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Lesson From An Old Friend

    KB, his nick name, is an artist. Or at least that is the way I remember him. In high school he was always in an art class or so it seemed.  Those glass front cases in the hallways always displayed something KB had produced and I secretly looked forward to seeing what was next. KB and I were buddies but we never shared his art .I am not sure if he had a love of the arts or it was an easy way to get High School credits to graduate. We mostly fished and hung out doing things most likely we should not have been doing.

   KB took what his art teachers showed him then spun it around, kick it in the behind and made it something no one thought it could be. I once saw a sculpture of clay that had been painted and kilned that KB had made. To this day I can see it. As art does, I was captivated by its form, colors and what it stirred in me. It was a green and yellow bullfrog. Something from one of our fishing jaunts. It was fabulous! I asked KB if I could have it. He was very serious and said no way, this is JUNK. He picked it up and crashed to the floor only hours after coming out of the oven. KB, according to his teacher, was a frustrated artist. Nothing was ever good enough. He was not going to let some one enjoy his art just to be nice to him, no way. I asked his art teacher where that came from. Her reply was not what I expected but then it sank in and how true it was. Sometimes the artist is not encouraged by those around him. Over criticizing and telling the artist all that is wrong with an endeavor. You know “Quit wasting time on that crap” and “What is that supposed to be?” I could hear KBs father saying those exact words while Miss B. explained KBs attitude. If it was not good enough for his father then it must not be good enough for anyone else. You know how it goes. We move on, lose contact with friends, and make new friends. We never forget them, just move on. After too many years I did run into KB. The guy I remembered was gone and a gaunt, scraggly guy had taken his place. He looked beaten down and I could not see his eyes because he would not look directly into mine. I wanted to be a friend again but I could see he was throwing up barriers. We spoke, reminisced and went away without setting a time to get together. I missed my buddy but could see he was not willing to rekindle an old friendship.

   A few days later as I was coming home from work I noticed a grocery bag on the front porch. I was thinking it was something Vicki had left there for me to carry in. The bag was too light for groceries so I looked inside. It was a square of white cardboard, like you did school projects on, it was semi faded. I turned it over to see a watercolor painting. The colors jumped off the board and I could hear that bullfrog croaking as KB and I chased it around that pond laughing to the point of exhaustion as we had done so many years ago. The wave of warmth that swept through me was followed by a tear. I looked around to make sure the neighbors weren’t watching, you know, seeing a grown man weeping over a watercolor bullfrog. I sat on the porch swing with that piece of art and wondered what KB could have done with this gift if someone he had respected and loved would have said something like “Son that is wonderful” or “That is awesome can I keep it”.

   I decided there and then without fail, to look at what went into my own kid’s accomplishments and not the result. I would acknowledge their efforts and attempts to be creative. KB was an art student, but what he brought to the table was more than what can be taught .He was a good art student but an even better artist and still a friend.

 Yours in the great game,

 Kelly M.E. Kalberer

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