Saturday, May 1, 2010

Things My Two-Year-Old Taught Me: Part VII

I’m pretty sure not a day goes by when bug doesn’t say, “I want to color?”  in pleading tones.  I’m one of those moms that thinks this is great.  The more creative play the better!  I love watching he and K “grocery shop” with their baby doll in the cart and get each other drinks from their play kitchen.  I love watching them dress up with the “prettys” (K’s word), burp their dolls, and just generally pretend.  I’m often caught off guard by how imaginative bug is already - is this something kids learn at an early age?  He make up songs, he tells silly little stories, he pretends to “see” Oma or Daddy walk through the door and then laughs when I look.  He pretends to cook and drive and sail in boats.  And he sees a whole world in the pictures he colors.  
To the untrained eye, his illustrations may look like scribbles; swirls of color and random lines sweeping haphazardly across the page.  But to bug, the oval is Daddy and the three lines in the air are a tree.  And all across the bottom of the paper march little dogs and cats, not squiggles.
Well, I have to admit that while I do enjoy and encourage this artistic interest he has, somedays I’d rather not be a party to it.  It’s so tempting to leave him to his own devices while he’s coloring, happy as a clam, so I can catch up on a good book or scribble down some thoughts or just sit and relax - things I normally can’t find the time for.
I was trying to do just this when bug quietly crept close - as if he knew I didn’t really want to be interrupted.  “Mommy color?” He asked with those pleading eyes.  I wanted to say not now.  I wanted to say I was busy.  I wanted to ignore being a good mom for a while.  But he tugged on my knee and I couldn’t.
I sat with him on the floor and began coloring the page opposite his.  It was a picture of a fairy.  I carefully and deliberately chose each color and filled in her wings, hair and dress - shading and highlighting delicately and making sure, of course, to stay within the lines.  This took extreme concentration, as all Pro Color-ers know.  bug soon grew bored with his picture and started flipping pages and coloring at random - a swipe of red here, a few jabs of blue there... followed by some intense scribbles of green.  At first I was annoyed and tried to coax him into staying on the same page for longer than a few seconds so I could color “the right way.”  After a while though, I grew tired of trying to correct him or force him to do something he clearly didn’t want to do.
I wondered if I was taking the fun out of coloring.
So I started to follow his lead.
I scribbled and swooped, making exaggerated swirls and speckles, ignoring lines and generally accepted color choices.  Who cares if I colored the sky green?  Who says that dogs can’t come in purple with green stripes?  If I want a paisley tree, I’ll make a paisley tree!
Somewhere in between mischievous giggles, those squinched up eyes of the truly happy and his excited gestures and jabberings, I realized I was having much more fun than I had been having doing things the correct way.  

Sometimes it’s better to color outside the lines.
And it’s always better to make time for what’s truly important.

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