Monday, January 13, 2014

Warning: Crayola Crayons May Be Hazardous To Your Health

Keep or toss?  I ask myself that question most often not about important bank statements, day-too-old leftovers or clothing I haven’t touched since the (first) Bush Administration, but about my daughter’s artwork.  As a result, the art on the walls of my home rivals only the funkiest of modern art museums when it comes to the need for title placards.

Isla said, "this a gingerbread house, but the dot isn't mine". 
Three days later she said, "it's a lion... and a frog".

Lately I have been trying to examine why I hold onto so many of their doodles.  Is it because I’m worried that my two baby girls are growing up so quickly that I am trying to preserve all that I can from their childhood, or maybe because I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that I gave birth to a mini Jackson Pollack?  Really, it’s neither.

I do not believe that the complete story of one’s life can be told from elementary school or adolescence forward.  So much of who we are is determined long before we step foot onto the kindergarten playground and I want to help document that growth as much as possible for my children, much like my own mother did for me.

This is a family portrait that I drew in kindergarten, hung in my mother’s home beside similar portraits drawn by my siblings. 

I don’t remember coloring the masterpiece, but whenever I look at it, I am reminded of a much simpler time in my life.  I am reminded of the innocence, peace and joy of my childhood, and long for the time when so much could be expressed perfectly with one sweep of a red Crayola crayon.

Open up a box of 64 Crayola crayons today, and the result would be quite different.  Tickle Me Pink, Razzle Dazzle Rose and Fuzzy Wuzzy are just a few of the options our children have to choose from these days.  And while I can fully appreciate the myriad of choices available to this generation that weren’t available to mine, part of me also wishes for them a time when life wasn’t so “colorful”.

As my 3 year old made quite clear with her piece shown above, sometimes the most beautiful things in life are monochromatic.