What I Learned Today about Monsters, Recess and Waiting

I had some fun drawing and making art with a classroom full of enthusiastic 2nd Graders today. I showed some of my art and they showed me some of theirs and then I even got the chance to sniff some of their "smelly markers." It was a good partnership.

While showing some of my recent Highlights work to the class, I told the story of illustrating a Monster named Odo, who just wants to be useful in the world and not just go around scaring people. Sadly though, every job he tried to do would always end the same way. Either it just didn't feel like him, or he would become overwhelmed by it all, and fail. He was a kindhearted monster, but stuck in a big, furry, eight-armed body. It wasn't until he was helping out a complete stranger that he finds his true calling. And it was something that he always was, but just needed the time to find. When did he find it? Well, when he stopped looking of course.

I thought of some parallels between Odo and myself growing up, and even now as an adult. I got in trouble as a kid. Not real trouble but goofy trouble. Talking, wandering, doodling in class. Normal trouble. I had all these varieties of interests and personal quirks, but nothing solid to pin them too. So I just got stuck getting in trouble here and there, all the while waiting to find my niche and eventually become the artist I ended up being.

After our little workshop had ended that day, the kids went out for recess. Everyone except one kid, that is. He was still sitting at his desk, waiting to go outside. We talked a bit more about his drawing (which was fantastic) and, unfortunately for him, the fact that he's also a chatty fellow who doesn't know when to stop talking and telling stories to his classmates. So as punishment, the teacher has him wait an extra 5 minutes before getting to go join his friends at recess. The ultimate torture device for a kid like myself, but a fair one.

At first glance you might see this kid as a "Trouble Maker." But at a second glance hopefully you see a little bit more.

At first glance you might see this kid as a "Trouble Maker." But at a second glance hopefully you see a little bit more. I smiled over at him after talking to his teacher and said "Hey this might all pay off someday. You'll probably end up being a best-selling author or reporter or motivational speaker or something. But right now, today, you're just late for recess." That made him smile a bit, and then it was time to head out and join his friends.

That's a bit of what I learned today from the people who weren't teaching me. That we all have our future selves inside us from the beginning.

That's a bit of what I learned today from the people who weren't teaching me. That we all have our future selves inside us from the beginning. Who we are and who we will someday be, has always been there. It probably was coming out in many different ways then and probably still is even now, and not all of them are great. We will probably get in trouble for some of those ways while we figure it all out too. That's just the process.

But with proper guidance, a loving hand and getting cut a little slack every now and then, we will find out who we always were anyway. We can actually become Odo the Monster and end up in the right place. We can actually become Mitch the artist and be sniffing watermelon markers on a Wednesday afternoon. And yes we can become Alex the award winning Nightline News Reporter who never backs away from a good story.

But meanwhile, while we sit and try to figure it all out, we're all just gonna be a little late for recess. Might as well draw a little doodle to pass the time.

Mitch Mortimer

Mitch Mortimer loves to tell stories and lives and and works as an illustrator in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has done an assortment of whimsical, and quirky illustrations for a variety of national clients such as Hasbro, McDonalds, Nintendo, Highlights, Kohl's and Kool-Aid. He is inspired by nature and the hard truths of brutally honest children everywhere.