Coloring Outside the Lines

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It was a rainy afternoon here, so Rosebud and I were stuck inside. She had just finished her snack and it was time for play time. I usually turn on music for background noise when we play in the living room. Rosebud likes to build with blocks, care for her babies and pretend she's Dr. Rosebud and gives me a checkup on a daily basis. Today when I turned on the music she said, "let's dance, Mommy." Normally this means just holding her hands and we spin around like we're doing Ring Around the Rosie, but today she wanted to actually dance. She kept saying, "you dance, Mommy." Then she was off doing dance moves that she made up on the spot. For a minute I froze and wondered what exactly to do. I'm a horrible dancer. I'm so self conscious even if it's just her and I. I told her that I wasn't a good dancer, but I'd try anyway and I started copying what she was doing. At least copying as much as I could see. Rosebud didn't mind my awkwardness. She was just glad to spend time together. After a few minutes, I was enjoying being active and I was grateful that she was so happy in that moment.

Little girl drawing with her cat watching.As the afternoon went on, I thought about my abilities as a parent and how some of the things I'm not good at really shake my confidence. There's the dancing which hopefully the neighbors weren't watching. I worried about it unnecessarily. Am I good enough? Am I doing this right? Then I have to remind myself that it's not about being good enough. It's about spending the time together and having fun. I'm horrible at drawing and Rosebud loves to draw. She is always asking me to draw with her. My shapes are crooked, the lines are rarely ever straight and forget coloring inside the lines, especially if the picture is complicated. It doesn't stop me from trying, but it always nags at me that's not good. I'm not showing her the right way and as she gets older, will this bother her? Probably not as much as it bothers me. I try because I want to be involved in what she's doing. Isn't that what's important?

There will be challenges in the future for us that most people take for granted with their children. It'll be difficult to teach her to read and write because she'll be reading and writing in a different way than I do. I hesitate to take her to places where there is a large group of kids because it's harder for me to find someone in a crowd. I'm not the best at socializing, so I worry about getting her the right amounts of social interaction. Sometimes when she's looking at something and asks what it is, I totally miss it. I miss the learning opportunity she could have had or just simply sharing the interaction of two people looking at the same thing in their environment. The challenges can seem endless at times, but what about all the things I can teach her and the gifts I can give? I let her enjoy the things I can't fully participate in or find ways to make activities work for both of us. We read a lot of touch and feel books, do lots of 3d art collages and play with play-dough.

Rosebud’s collage with puffy stickers.

I can teach her how to be a problem solver. When one thing is inaccessible to me, I might have to try something more than one way before I figure out what works. This is especially true with technology. I can teach her to step out of her comfort zone and try something new. I can teach the value of spending time together making memories. I can teach her how to listen. This skill is highly underrated. I can teach her about kindness and compassion towards both people and animals.

One of Rosebud’s drawings that she calls,the bridge.There are people out there who don't even know me who might question my abilities as a parent. I might be a terrible dancer, a little socially awkward and color outside the lines, but I can fix boo-boos, bake cookies that make our house smell like a home and make time for snuggles and story time each night. I can make a perfect batch of play-dough and find the best bargains on toys. Most of all, Rosebud is sheltered, clean, safe and loved. When I see her happiness, the embarrassing and sometimes meaningless things that shake my confidence disappear. In those moments, I can see the big picture. The picture with color spilling over the lines that didn't need to be there in the first place. I'm teaching her to start with a blank piece of paper and make her own creation. She doesn't have to fit into anyone else's lines or boxes to be worthy and neither do I.



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