I am Matisse
By Roberta Miles
I am Matisse, and this is a kid’s story, because I am a kid. I am nine years old and very responsible for my age. The other Matisse, at least the only other one I know, was a great painter, the father of abstraction. I have decided to be empress of the universe. I’m what adults call precocious.
My Grandma-ma always speaks to me as if I’m the smartest person she ever met. My mom still thinks of me as only nine and my dad, well he just smiles at me all the time. Actually he beams. He doesn’t say much of anything.
I’m not really French, but I like to call my grandmother Grandma-ma. It just seems so French. And after all being named Matisse is so French. I sometimes wonder what they were thinking when they named me Matisse, but I really like my name. Grandma-ma told me she changed her name when she was about 13, but she never told anyone. It was her special secret. But I figure what good is a secret unless someone else knows you have one?
When I get a little older Grandma-ma is going to tell me everything about her life and I can hardly wait. I think she’s very colorful and I’m going to model myself after her.
So as the empress of the universe, I haven’t quite decided yet what I will do first, but I know Grandma-ma will steer me in the right direction. I’ve decided to make her my royal assistant. I think together we make a good team. When my parents aren’t around I call her Your Highness and she calls me Madame Empress. I have a grandfather too and that’s exactly what I call him, Grandfather. Dear Grandfather, may I get you a blanket? Grandfather, would you like some tea? I think he thinks I’m silly. But he always plays along with me. He’s just a funny guy.
He likes my Grandma-ma an awful lot. I can tell. He says she’s a hoot. And he thinks I am, too.
“Yes, dear Matisse, will you get me a blanket to cover an old man’s knees? Matisse can you fetch me a cup of tea? Matisse, can you please stop shoving your brother into the closet?” He’s just a funny guy.
Yesterday I decided to start wearing sunglasses all the time. Not at bedtime though, that could be very dangerous. Why, if the lights are out and it’s dark outside and I wear my sunglasses, how will I find the bathroom? That’s just silly. What if I trip? What if I walk into a wall? What if I fall on top of my little sister while she’s sleeping?
I told my parents sunlight hurts my eyes, and the lamp light is no better. But really, I think I look very French with my sunglasses on. Grandma-ma wears sunglasses with rhinestones in them, but she tells everyone that they are diamonds. My glasses aren’t so fancy. They just look like giant eyeballs. After all, I’m only nine. Grandma-ma and I are what people call chic. It’s another word for stylish.
I’m also thinking about speaking French all the time. Grandma-ma said we could learn it together. Maybe Grandfather will learn it, too, and the three of us will be the only ones to understand each other. My mother will just hate it and my father will beam. He likes when Grandma-ma and I do our crazy things.
My dad is very smart, like maybe one of the smartest people on the face of the earth. And so is my mom. I’m really lucky to have them as parents. But to tell the truth Grandma-ma is my favorite. She’s my dad’s mom. He was so lucky to grow up with her. She’s so much fun. When I was little she use to tell me stories about skunks. And in her magical stories the skunks could really talk and I thought that skunks really could speak. I really wanted them to. I love skunks.
I really love my other Grandmother too. I’m so lucky to have two Grandma-mas and two Grandfathers. I know a lot of kids don’t. But I have all four. My other grandparents live pretty far away from me, so I don’t get to see them as much as I’d like too. But I know, that they know how much I love them. In fact I plan to run away some day and go to Virginia. That’s where they live. I almost can’t wait. But in the meantime, I’ve got it pretty good here. Yes, I am so lucky. I am a really lucky girl. And that’s ‘cause I am Matisse.