I stand in the doorway. I usher in the smiling and grubby after lunch faces of a class full of Kindergarteners. Some throw their arms around me and hug me tight. Some shyly smile and wave the queen wave, the hand that slowly nods back and forth, a boy loudly exclaims that he would like to see Cheekzilla (the cheek pinching T-Rex that lives in my closet) today. I smile broadly, laughing out loud. Then I put my hand on my hip and stand arrogantly. I am afraid I have no idea what you are talking about I say, but wink and the child laughs the way only a five year old can, a shriek. I walk in hand still on hip, I should say I sweep in. Good afternoon knights and ladies I say. Your Majesty someone says. One of the girls says OOOOHHH Princess Art. A boy stands and rolls his arm at his waist as he bows to me, the bow I taught them some months ago. A naughty little boy is beginning to misbehave, I look at him with my regal eye, IF you continue to misbehave I will send you to the dungeon. Another boy says OH no then she will feed you to the dragons. The naughty little boy is giggling but he sits and stops fooling around. We proceed to make art. Cheekzilla does not make his loud appearance except in the small argument that takes place, Cheekzilla is a boy not a girl, Cheekzilla is Ms. Gregory, not he isn’t, yes he is, Ms. Gregory it’s you isn’t it? I am afraid I have no idea what you are talking about! I say in Princess Art mode, more laughter peals through the room.
We read Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, the weather is perfect for this book, and when we come to the father hooting like a Great Horned Owl my secret talent for bird calls comes out in the open and a class room full of faces stares at me with wonder, and then they begin to echo me. We make a beautiful collage of little owls, their gluey faces with torn strips of paper fanning out, the grey paper in sticky glue puddles on the belly, some put dark brown paper sticking straight out like the wings in the illustration in the picture by John Schoenherr the Caldecott Award winning artist of this lovely story. To look at these pictures is to see the heart of a child writ on black paper with a shining yellow moon.
As the children leave the Kingdom of Art they hug me or wave again in turn, someone asks if Cheekzilla will be back next week. I shrug and say if he comes back from his vacation at Disneyland. NO someone shouts he is you. The teacher shushes the student. And again I wink and the shushed child grins despite getting in trouble for his outburst. As they leave the room I become Meg again. But there is a sparkling glitter of a diamond in my eye.