Coloring Outside the Lines


How did it happen? The days somehow turned to months and years, and suddenly I have a kindergartener. I’ve spent most of the summer mentally preparing myself for that first day. The day we’d walk him to class, kiss him goodbye, maybe even shed a few tears. It would be surreal and sweet.

We entered his little classroom, filled with little tables and little chairs and little people quietly coloring…in the lines. Instantly I felt a sudden pang of concern, “oh no, they all color in the lines.” My brow furrowed. We don’t color in the lines in our house. We color ALL over the page. We color with six crayons at the same time. We race when we color, and Little Man shouts “I win I win!” as he fills his page with color and dimension.

But still, I worry. Will he be forced to color within the lines? Will he be made to conform?

He put on his favorite tie-dye shirt a few weeks back, a vacillated over whether to keep it on or not. “I wonder if my friends will like it,” he pondered out loud before running out the door to play. I stopped him and looked him in the eyes. “Baby, it doesn’t matter if they like it, it’s your shirt and you like it, it’s a cool shirt.”

This stage came so much faster than I had anticipated. The caring and worrying about what others think stage. He suddenly worries about what his friends think, and now I’m sure this will apply to his classmates. I hope with every fiber of my being that I’ve instilled into him his awesomeness. He is so fun, and smart, and capable, and he, we, live a bit outside the lines.

One might take a snapshot of our little family and begin to categorize us. The list might be based on appearance and assumption, it may be based on statistics. It might look something like this:

  • White anglo-saxon
  • Christian
  • Republican
  • Middle Class
  • College Educated
  • Volvo Driving
  • Chocolate Lab Owning yada yada yada

It’s true, we do fall into a few of these categories, and that’s fine, but these labels don’t actually define us, they don’t make us who we are. Yes, they are a part of us, sometimes for better, and given the current political climate, for worse. But at the end of the day what I think we are truly defined by is our humanity. We are people. We are the peoplest of people. We need love. We want love. Relationship. Community. Understanding. Safety.

So, because I want my son to know that we are just people, I teach to him to love past boundaries and boxes. We talk about things, the whys and the hows. And I hope that at least some of what I am saying imprints on his little mind.

To the potential dismay of his teacher I will continue allowing him to color outside the lines, I may even encourage it a little. Because we cannot truly be categorized, we do not live inside a box, we do not live in black and white. We live in a wild wonderful world, complete with colors abundant, flavors to be tasted and savored.

Published by rachelcheriebaker

Meet Rachel. She thinks she's hilarious. Not always so. She laughs at her own jokes. She's married to a ginger, who also happens to be a Pastor. Rachel and her ginger-Pastor husband have two children. They are the cutest children on earth. Don't even try to dispute it. Rachel, her ginger-Pastor husband, the two most adorable children on earth, oh and a rescued blue heeler named Lucy are living a daily adventure. Sometimes it's fun, other times scary, and just about everything in between.

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