Why Blank Paper Rules

HisMrsHerMr_MG_0031As a little girl, I loved admiring the pages of a brand new coloring book. Perhaps the only thing better was a box of new crayons, their tips untarnished by an interaction with paper. Each color possessed a promise and a chance to help create something exceptional that was refrigerator-, bedroom wall- or parent’s desk-worthy.

Each time I received a coloring book I flipped through the pages and imagined one day finishing it in its entirety — coloring every single page leaving me with a beautiful book, even prettier than the ones I circled in preparation for the Scholastic Book Fair. Yes, it would be that good.

Only it never happened that way. No matter what technique I tried, my coloring was never quite good enough, at least in my eyes. Whether it was coloring softly or outlining the images with a crayon, then coloring them in, I often gave up after accidently coloring outside the lines, finding my redemption in a new coloring book and a chance to start over.

For some reason, I was already striving for perfection – limiting myself to create in the context of the image that filled the pages in front of me.

Afternoons were spent coloring alongside my mother, often resulting in me ooh and ahhing over her beautifully colored images and tearing mine out of the book not to display, but to tuck away or toss. My mother always told me I was doing a wonderful job but little did I know it was my coloring skills that reminded her of how awesome it was to be my mom. When I flip back through my life story gazing at the images that make up my childhood I see glimpses of my parents marveling at my creations, not those stuck in the binding of a book, but the ones on paper. Blank paper (or notebook paper).

Years later and I still love opening up a box of new crayons, but more than that I love the endless possibilities that are before me and my kids because for the most part we’ve decided to ditch the coloring books. I realized that I will treasure a book of scribbles just as much, if not more than my once construed notion of perfection.

And while we do still have a few coloring books in our house, we also have a stack of crisp white paper and if we run out, my oldest raids the computer printer. I see them reaching for and requesting a piece of paper time and time again. The coloring books, not so much.

Continue reading No Coloring Books for My Kids, Thank You Very Much over at Babble.

Photo by Rakeem Cunnigham. See more of his work here.

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