So this was inspired by @beltsquid‘s post about the watercolour collab paintings around Nate and Elena’s house + amazing discussion with various tumblr friends about Cassie colouring all over Nate’s journal. This is probably cheesy as hell, but here it is.
He wasn’t used to having an audience when he drew, and usually preferred not to have one, but the adoring eyes of his daughter were an exception he thought he could get used to. She had her chair pushed up close against his by the kitchen table, and was crouching on it to watch him sketch.
“What’s that?” she asked, poking at the page.
“It’s a mandala,” he explained, and she frowned at the word. “Or at least, part of one.”
“What does it do?”
He struggled to find an easy explanation, toying between accuracy and simplicity. “Well, it can be a lot of things, but this one—it’s from a place called Tibet, and in Tibet it represents the world, or the universe, which is like the world but a lot bigger.” She’d see a real one soon enough—Elena had only just finished booking another trip to Nepal, and they’d be heading out there in a few weeks. He wondered idly, as he often did, how Tenzin was getting on, and how old Pema must be by now. He also wondered if her and Cassie would get along, and smiled at the thought.
“What’s rep-re-sent mean?”
Nate’s attention was dragged back to his daughter. He opened his mouth to try and give her a definition, and he quickly began to question his grasp of the English language. “It’s like—to stand for something.”
Cassie nodded in understanding and looked at the page again. “So the circles you drew stand on the world?”
He chuckled. “No, not exactly. More like they mean the world.”
“Oh.” She turned to look at one of the maps hanging on the wall and shook her head. “It doesn’t look like the world. There’s no land.”
Nate smiled at her. “It’s supposed to symbolise the world,” he said. “To show all the colourful things in it, and how big and different it is. That’s why it doesn’t look like a map.”
“What’s symbolise mean?”
“It’s like represent,” he replied slowly, wondering how to break the cycle they seemed to be falling into. “The mandala is a simpler way of showing the world, or universe, even if that’s not what it really looks like.”
Cassie was apparently satisfied with the answer, because she suddenly jumped up on her chair and stared down at the paper.
“Can I colour it for you?” Cassie braced her palms on the table, tiny fingers spread out on the wood, and looked up at him hopefully with large, brown eyes. He wasn’t sure how he could possibly say no.
Elena had said to him once that their daughter must possess some form of arcane magic—a kind of adorable medusa-esque look that, instead of turning people to stone, would bend them to her will. Nate was inclined to believe his wife’s supernatural explanation for Cassie’s unending ability to convince people to do what she wanted, especially when he was seeing it in action.
“Let me finish drawing it,” he reasoned with her. “Then you can colour it; sound like a plan?”
“Sí,” she replied, and he grinned at the casual use of Spanish.
“Me daré prisa,” he said, and looked down at the page to get back to work. Cassie stayed beside him, her chin now resting on her folded arms, and followed the pencil’s movement with curious eyes.
Twenty-seven minutes later, Cassie was stationed at the table, armed with brushes and Elena’s water colour paints. Her head was bowed over the drawing, her hair pulled back into a tiny ponytail by her mother in a vain attempt to keep her clean.
“You should just make her a colouring book,” Elena said quietly, standing beside Nate in the kitchen and watching their daughter.
He laughed. “Yeah, maybe. She draws enough in my journal as it is.”
Elen looped her arm around his and rested her head on his shoulder. “Your sketches are a lot more interesting than generic princesses and races cars, too. She can learn about history and make your journal more colourful.”
Nate smiled into her hair. “As long as she doesn't—”
“I’m done!” Cassie jumped off her chair—she really needed to stop doing that—and raced into the kitchen to show her parents. “See?” she said, and pointed to the page. “I made it look like a flower!”
“That was quick,” Elena commented, then smiled down at the painting. Runny blues and greens and purples were soaked through the page, following some abstract pattern only Cassie knew the rhythm to. Small multi-hued fingerprints also dotted the edges of the page, like small petals off of her mandala-turned-flower. The detail was unintentional, he was sure, but no less effective. “It looks wonderful, Cass.”
A big, toothy grin was her response, and she turned it back around to look at it. “I want to give it to Sully. It looks like the flowers on his shirts.”
Nate nodded and extended a hand to grab the page. “Next time we seem him, you can give it to him. Let me hang it up on the fridge for now—”
“I wanna!” she protested, and then padded over to the fridge. She grabbed some of the letter magnets off the front of the door and arranged them at the top of the page until they spelled out Sully’s name: S-u-l-e.
“Now grandpa will know it’s for him,” Cassie said, hands on her hips and standing back to admire her work. Then she looked over her shoulder at her father, her magic gaze once again at full power. “Can you draw more? I want to make one for Sam now.”
He wasn’t sure how he could say no this time either, and pulled away from a smiling Elena to head back to the table. “Sure,” he promised, and felt painted-coated fingers slip into his palm. He looked down at Cassie and raised a brow. “What do you want this time?”
“A dinosaur,” she said, nodding to herself. “Yeah. A big one.” She spread her arms out, letting go of his hand for a moment. “This big.”
“I’ll need more than one page for that,” Nate said, frowning and sneaking a glance at his wife, who was biting back a laugh. “I don’t think—”
“I can colour them while you draw on other pages!” she insisted, bouncing on her toes.
His hand hurt like hell at by dinner time, and there was water colour covering a good portion of the table and floor around it, but the brontosaurus he drew for his daughter hung taped and painted up on the fridge, just under Sully’s mandala-flower, and Cassie was passed out in her chair, paint brush still in hand, so he decided it had been worth it.