Monday, June 27, 2011

Coloring "in the lines"

Some of you already know this because I've talked about it before - Mini Me has his own journal. He's four, and has had his own journal since he was almost two. Here's why: he doesn't like coloring books. He would flip and flip and flip and not find a page he wanted to color and I didn't understand what the problem was - didn't little kids like to color? So I got him some paints - and he LOVED painting. But what do you DO with all those loose pieces of paper they paint on? No way I'm throwing them out (even though I am the kind of person who throws away cards) but what the F am I supposed to do with them? So I thought a BOOK would be a good way to keep them all together and not all over the house.

 (Yes, that is my coffee table, and yes, it does have a lot of paint on it. Don't care!)

And this is how I discovered the problem - he likes to paint, sure. But he also LOVES to "draw". I got him those fat markers that smell like fruits and he likes to take every color and scribble on the same page and say that he's making a "utopian city". That's his favorite. But he'll also draw race cars, rocket ships, squares, circles, and he taught HIMSELF how to write his name. So the coloring book "problem" was that he doesn't like LINES. He doesn't want that restriction on his art! 

He wants the freedom of creating what he wants. Whatever is in that little head comes spilling out into his journal, EXACTLY like adults want to do and struggle with! If I give him one of those watercolor paint things you can get for a dollar he will use every single color right down to the plastic and make a big, soupy, brown puddle then stand back and declare "I'm a really good artist!"

Believe it or not, there is a point to this story. The other day we were at Old Chicago having dinner (hubby is a manager there) and he wanted my mom to color in the menu with him. "Pinkie, will you please color crazy with me?" He asked, and started scribbling. She replied "I can't. My mommy taught me to color inside the lines." For those of you not fluent in Passive-Aggression, this suggests that his mommy hasn't taught him that and should. I "should" restrict his freedom with his crayons. I "should" make him use the "correct" color when he's coloring a flower or a tiger, instead of letting him color everything blue. He's overused blue since before he could say the word "blue". He likes blue. He's his favorite color. He'll tell anyone who will listen that he loves ALL the colors in the rainbow but blue is his favorite, especially dark blue. He colored this for me at Story Time. Can four-year-olds color "better" than this? Yes. Liam can. He CAN color in the lines, and he KNOWS what a giraffe looks like. But he wanted it to look like this. I watched the other moms coach their kids through picking the "right" colors while Liam happily made his giraffe blue, and handed it to me with a HUGE smile and said "For you, Mommy!"

Here is what he did in school when his teacher made him color inside the lines. He can also cut along the lines, hold his pencil correctly, recognizes all the letters of the alphabet and their sounds, is obsessed with how to spell words and read, and will often shout out a Spanish word for something that I didn't know.

So maybe I'm the parent who's growing a serial killer or drug addict because I feed him PopTarts and let him color outside the lines and play video games. But right now he wants to go to medical school and learn science to become a doctor. 

PS I didn't call it his journal, just his "book", until one day my husband came home and Liam was scribbling furiously with a colored pencil and Daddy said "What are you doing, Buddy?" and he said "Working in my journal."

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