A fairly standard component of my pediatric occupational therapy evaluations is to ask the child to draw a picture of themselves. This assessment technique provides an opportunity to evaluate the child's skill with writing and also is a functional assessment of their cognitive and perceptual ability.
Sometimes kids draw things that just beg to be probed and questioned - as was the case recently. I watched intently as 6 year old Patrick drew a representation of himself, but then he began adding odd details to his picture. First he colored dark spots on his figure's hands and feet, and then added a row of X's across the forehead.
I leaned forward and quizzically asked, "Patrick, what are these marks here?"
He looked at me for a moment and then responded: "Jesus died for you, you know. He got nailed to a cross, in his hands and his feet. My Dad said that he had to wear prickers on his head and it made him bleed."
"Oh," I replied, not knowing what else to say. I figured he was hearing about the Lenten season and Easter. "Keep drawing, Patrick," I added. I was curious about what else he would add to his picture.
I wasn't disappointed. Patrick added a few more shapes to his drawing. The first looked like a cross, so I asked him "And what is this?"
Patrick didn't disappoint my curiosity. "It's the cross, Dr. Chris. That is where Jesus died. And this is all the people that wanted him to die, but now they are really sad." He added a few sad faces to the drawing, around the base of the cross.
At this point I wasn't really looking at his drawing ability; I was just interested in how much this very young child knew about the Passion. These are the kinds of things that can add a lot of texture to an assessment.
I pointed to the next shape, expecting him to tell me that it was where Jesus was buried, and where he rose from the dead. "Tell me, Patrick, what is this over here?"
Patrick looked at me as if I flew in from another planet, and with a look of disbelief on his face he said, "Dr. Chris... That's a square. Don't you even know that?"
These are the things I learn from the children I work with.