A dear cousin gave Jake this beautiful piece of art when he was born. We promptly hung it in his room.
Fast forward 4 years to this St. Patrick’s Day craft we were doing. Jake spent a lot of time working on his project, putting the colors in rainbow order. He would add a few dots in different spots “for creativity”, and I was cool with that.
Then I ran upstairs to get the babies, came back down and found this:
At first I was very upset. His picture looked so good and now he had ruined it. (Shamefully, in the back of my mind I was thinking “ugggh, I was planning to post this picture on the blog!”) I started to yell at him, then I looked at his face. Full of wide-eyed innocence he said “I was seeing what happens when I mixed it all up” with such pride in his voice. After all, we do LOVE the book Mix It Up!
I took a step back and the words “color outside the lines” kept flashing in my mind. I had a choice- berate him because his art didn’t look like the cookie-cutter example, while squashing his creativity, diminishing his confidence (he is a perfectionist, so this risk he took was HUGE), and quelling his curiosity OR smile, tell him I loved all of the colors he used and proceed with a science experiment on how long it will take to dry. (For the record, he immediately deduced that we should put it outside to dry faster. Furthermore, I neglected to put paper under it, left it in the rain, and now have a green-stained deck, but that’s beside the point.)
This simple project meant as a holiday decoration reminded me of all of the the things I want for my son.
I want him to take risks and be unafraid of failure.
I want him to to express his creativity and individuality without pressure to conform.
I want him to think outside the box without repercussion.
I want him to be spontaneous and have fun without holding back.
I want him to try new things without the constraints of perfectionism.
I want him to act with passion not restriction.
In the end, it was a lesson learned for all. He gained valuable art, science, fine motor, and personal growth experience, and I learned to let go of preconceived notions and just let him be.
Life doesn’t have to fit neatly between the lines. Color it any way you want!
P.S. I still despise paint and did not enjoy the mess, but it is so very worth it.