When I was in first grade, our reading workbooks were “Think and Do” books. “Dick and Jane, we look and see, we work and play, we come and go.” I just pulled this image off the internet. Did it really look so, well, 1950-ish? And the answer is of course, as it was 1950-ish. Oye, how time flies. Why I thought about Dick and Jane is this morning as I walked around Asheville, I saw a very defined and colored inside the lines print that said “Draw outside the lines.” While my friend and I puzzled at the depiction of such a directive, I immediately went back in time to the day that Sister Alice Mary smashed my little hands with a ruler and hung a sign around my neck that said “I am a dummy”. I had tired of coloring in the multitude of little leaves on the tree hiding Dick and Jane and friends faces and taken the broad side of my crayon and simply colored the whole tree (and spaces between) green. That day I learned to color strictly inside the lines. Note my very distinct black line art style. Good things do come from kinda icky things.
Sister AM’s message had a big effect on my life. Do not think and do on your own, but follow strict rules or experience pain and be labeled a dummy. My little 6 year old self bought that, as many little 6 year old selves did and do. We give our little ones messages that being who they are is not acceptable. Conform or lose. My mission in life is to counteract that message and encourage a new message that who you are is SO much more than enough.
So please. Let your little one (and that might be you) be who they are. Support and direct them to explore what that might be, who that might be. Watch them and learn for yourself how to live life with creativity and allowance.