Coloring within the lines

Coloring within the lines

My daughters have answers to every question asked. Check out our conversations recently:

Hailey: (Makes a sound; half-belch, half-hiccup, half-cough)
Me: (Teasingly) Did you just belch?
Hailey: No! I don’t belch.
Me: You don’t?
Hailey: No. I am not a boy!
Me: (Rolls eyes in defeat)

Me: (Offering Hailey her 4 o’clock tea) Do you want bread or pancakes to go with that?
Hailey: (Thinks for a moment) My heart tells me to go with pancakes
Me: (Does a quick double take) YOUR HEART tells you?
Hailey: Yes. (Smiles sweetly) My heart tells me to eat pancakes.
Me: Ok then. Let’s follow what your heart says, shall we? (Handing her pancakes)

Me: Heidi, have you done your homework?
Heidi: (Absentmindedly) No
Me: Why?
Heidi: (Ever so innocently!) Coz I have not done my homework.

Me: Heidi, did you finish your food?
Heidi: No
Me: Why?
Heidi: Coz I did not finish my food

Hailey surprises you with very unconventional answers (My heart tells me? I am yet to get over that statement – She is barely six for chrissake!), while Heidi never gives a reason for anything she does! She is in love with the word ‘coz’ and it has to punctuate every statement.

You tell her not to remove her sweater, and she asks “Coz…?”
“Coz if you do, I will spank your bottom, that’s coz!” I am tempted to respond.
Incidentally, ‘bottom’ is an anatomy she is fascinated with too!
“Mum, you’re washing my bottom?” She asks laughingly when I am giving her a bath.
“Muuuum! Hailey slapped me on my bottom!”
“Muuum! Hailey touched my bottom!”
I am left wondering if her bottom is that sensitive or she just loves to use the word.

After giving me the ‘coz I have not done my homework’ response in one of the interrogations above, I asked Heidi to bring her book so that I could help her with homework. She had been asked to color a car drawn by her teacher. The idea is to color within the lines. So she takes the crayon and starts coloring. She really tries. But she is not perfect yet and so some colors cross the outline. Which gets me thinking…

How many adults are still doing what Heidi was asked to do? Still coloring within the lines?

Someone drew some invisible lines for us and we subconsciously try to keep within the boundary. Afraid to try anything out of the norm. Who said we all have to be good in sciences? Get married and have children by the age of thirty? Have a skinny body and light skinned complexion? We kill our uniqueness every single day as we try to live like everyone else.

When we cannot live up to those standards, we beat ourselves up, become depressed and unhappy with feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. So many problems while we could just be content with being ourselves and consequently live a happy, fulfilling life by being who we are meant to be! Haven’t we humans perfected the art of complicating life?! Think about it really.

How about drawing the line wherever you want and not letting anyone else show you where the coloring should stop. Know what you want and make it your personal goal to achieve that which your heart desires. Isn’t life better that way? Aren’t we happier when we conquer the fear of exploring (coloring) outside that box?

Asking a child to color within the lines stifles their creativity. Why not give them a blank page instead? See how far their imagination goes. Heidi did her homework all right. She colored the car and tried as much as possible to stick within the boundaries. But I vowed to teach her how to get the most out of life. To go over and beyond the expected. Explore the unexplored. Seek the undiscovered.

Once she was through with her homework, I gave her another option. I gave her a blank piece of paper and asked her to color anywhere with whichever colors she fancied.

Take a risk. Make a mess. Go where your imagination takes you.

You never know; coloring outside the lines might produce an even better picture. Out of that mess, could come something insanely spectacular.

Coloring within the lines is good. Neat. Perfect. But when you think about it, what is so great about perfect?

Really. What?

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