Staying Inside the Lines

We just had a wonderful three-day visit from Dennis’s son Ryan and our five-year-old granddaughter Leah. One of her favorite activities is to color, so I had bought her a mandala coloring book which turned out to be a really fun thing for us to do together. I had this realization that basically I have been coloring for four years, ever since I started drawing mandalas. What is strange is that I never really figured it out before.

Anyway, at one point, Leah said, “I like the way you color. All I know how to do is scribble.”

It was such an endearing thing to say, and I asked her if she would like to learn an easy way to help her stay within the lines and she said “yes.” I explained how she could use the black lines and first outline a shape in the desired color and after that begin to fill in the space. She tried it out and caught on really quickly, and I was so pleased that I had been able to teach her something.  She was very diligent about it for a while, but after a few minutes, she reverted to scribbling again.  I asked her why and she said, “I just like to scribble.”

That really made me think about how a child makes the transition from scribbling to being able to stay between the lines, and about what is gained and what is lost when that happens.  Leah knows.  Scribbling is fun.  It is free, wild, daring.  It isn’t afraid to go outside the lines.  It makes a bold statement.  I wonder why did we ever have to learn to stay inside the lines?  Who taught me?  When?  Why did I let it happen?  Is it too late to go back?

Pictured above is one of our best collaborations, with me trying to be looser, and Leah trying to stay inside the lines.


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