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The “Ironicity” Of Coloring...
Introduction-- Application in Thought and Life
I love to read books, I love to write, and I love stories. The one thing that my Dad did to me, especially when I started middle school, was that he never just told me what to do; he made a story of and from what it was. That singled out on my mind until now. The idea that he took the time to create a story, to deliver it in a certain manner, mattered to me. My Dad is a very quiet individual; he seldom speaks. I grew up with a somewhat luxurious financial life due to his hard work and being wit with life professionally, at the cost of him missing the wit of being with his family. I did not tell this to blame him; not at all. As an adult now, I realized that he meant it wholeheartedly when he told me how scared he was for his children to live a poor life, the way he was during childhood. The promise of his life was to make sure that his family is well taken care of; he carried his promised and put it all on his shoulders, and as a human being, there are only so much we all can carry and like one old saying said, “Something gotta give!” Wasn’t that true?....Nowadays, when we spoke, my Dad always told me that the only thing he could hope for was for me to share my life stories with him, and as a way for me to appreciate his stories when I was growing up, I tried to take the time to tell him the stories of my daily life mindfully. I have a motto that I have kept dearly in my heart, “ I don’t want to live regretting, I want to live creating.” My relationship with my Father was about stories, and I have no doubt it would forever be.
This writing was somewhat a combination of I am missing my Dad and a thought having read The Little Prince ( Le Petit Prince) by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry . It is a great book where it reminds us on how our mind as adults work differently than the mind of children. It is not that one is better than the other; it is not that one is more logical than the other. It is not that one is more beautiful than the other. It is simply that one has not been “colored” with experiences in life as the other. A child’s mind is somewhat a white blank canvas that throughout times will be full of colors, like the adult’s mind does. The main point here is not the experiences in life; rather, it is the way one decides on how to choose to color each of the experience on one’s canvas. The experiences in life are combinations of what are within and without our control; the choice of the color one chooses for each of the experience creates the difference in how an experience is drawn and looked like on the canvas. There is no wrong or right about color; there is no better or worse; the premise is there is no one side or the other. However, there is always a thought kept, an act chosen, a decision made, and a creation resulted out of.
Having understood this mindset, as a teacher, I am trying very hard to be mindful for what color I decide on my canvas for every single experience, big or small, in life. How I choose will impact who I am, and furthermore, it will impact how I learn with my students. Nobody is immune from anyone’s thoughts, actions, words, decisions; even if we decided to live alone in a mountain, we will impact on the nature around us as the nature will impact us. I love learning and teaching; those are my passion in life. If you read one of my blogs, I mentioned that I always wanted to be a teacher since I was 4 years old. And one more important benefit besides the lifetime learning is the unsurmountable courageous and kindness my students relay and introduce me to.
Couple of examples I just experienced last weekend:
First example: I noticed that one of my students was in need of some sort of brave moment. She is a good writer, but she, often times, pays attentions more on being perfect than trying her best. Writing is one of her “pit”, and the one area that she is often having to admit her imperfection and it bothers her. So, I decided to share one of my “pit”, which is drawing, with her. I asked her to write, and I sat next to her and I drew ( at least, tried to :) ) a pig. The first try, I said to myself, “It is an okay pig!” She looked at it, and she looked at me, frowned a bit funny, and said, “Yes, Ms. Chandra, it is okay!” It was not a big moment; however, it was a moment where she and I decided to choose a “color” of an experience on each of our canvas. She ended up writing and I ended up drawing; we both glued on imperfections, which ultimately strengthened our relationship.
Second example: my other student who also felt that writing is his “pit”. He has been a better challenger of himself and a kinder person to himself when it comes to writing. I am glad to see that progress. Yesterday, he wrote a story with somewhat an unhappy or not so ideal of an ending. He did not think it was a big deal, however, I decided to spill “ a color” on both of our canvas by saying, “That was absolutely fantastic that you’re comfortable with a not so good of an ending.” He looked at me and he smiled; he asked why I said that, and I told him,
“To be comfortable with not so ideal of an ending is a very important tool for you to get through life, now and in the future. Not too many people can do that wisely. I am proud of you starting with that process now, and being comfortable with that.” He nodded and said, “Thank you, Ms. Chandra!”
The important message was not the glorious moments that I have achieved with my students. The important thing I am communicating is those simple details are the “color” on the canvas. We choose our own color on the canvas, and we need to be fully aware that our choice impacts the color of others, especially our young ones. They learn to “choose” the color by observing on how we “choose” our color. Make no mistake that in the end, each one of us would choose own color; but the process of choosing needs modeling, especially for our young ones. That is the one important process that our young ones observes from us. This process is where they learn to hope, to dream, to fail, to fear, to doubt, to regret, to shame, to blame, and to rise.
In the spirit of giving thanks to each other, I am sharing this writing to invite all of you to recognize how impactful we have on our modeling to the young ones; how we choose our “color” on the canvas has impacts, not just to us, but to our young ones and to the world in the future. I would like to invite you on the premise that beyond of what is academic ( cognitive and intelligence), we need to learn with and teach our young ones on how to dream, to wish, to rise, and to create through the willingness to understand on what it is to fail, to fear, to doubt, to regret, to shame, and to blame. In and itself, it is the definition of thinking outside the box. Teaching, Learning, Parenting, or whatever word you want to choose, is NEVER about right or wrong; bad or good; fail or success; is NEVER about one way or the other. It is SIMPLY about “coloring” the canvas with full understanding that in and itself, we can’t run away from its “ironicity”.
Below is the story that came to mind...that some might have experienced before...some might encounter it in the future, and some might never experience it...it is a real story happening to real people in life. It is not to point out on who to blame or not to blame, it is not to point out weaknesses or strengths. It is to point out on HOW we decide to “color” the palpitating matters to our hearts...since there are choices offered, decisions made, and outcomes to think about.
“For the Color of My Heart”
There was a little child who loves to draw. The child draws everywhere. The only time she does not draw is when she is sleeping. She proclaimed to everyone, several times, that she never likes sleeping and will never like sleeping. One odd thing about her drawing is she never colors it. She draws with a pencil, and she never colors her drawing. Her Mother asked her once why she never likes to color, and she said, “Mom, I don’t want to color because I don’t like the color of most things in the world. Why can’t elephant be yellow and not gray? Why the sky be blue and not green? Why are my eyes brown and not purple? Color is confusing, like I am not free.” Her Mother did not bother to continue the conversation because she thought it is not that important for her and if color is confusing for the child, then, the child should be able to feel that way, and the Mother let the child be. She thought the child can do whatever the child wants to do with the drawing. Not until...
On a second grade parent-teacher conference, the child’s teacher, Ms. PickyOPicky”, told the Mother that she is worried with the child not ever color the drawing. Ms. PickyOPicky said, “ It is very unusual that your child does not like to color. I am a bit concerned and wondering if something is the matter with your child.” The Mother was surprised, and she had never thought that something was the matter with her child, not until that day, on a parent-teacher conference when Ms. PickyOPicky asked her if something is the matter with her child. “Goodness, I certainly don’t hope so!” the Mother said. In the Mother’s mind, “ Wow, my child might have a problem! After all a teacher who has been teaching for 30 something years like Ms. PickyOPicky saying that about my child!” The Mother’s mind comes from the tune of singing “No Problem” to “ There might be a problem.” And it was not a pleasant tune for the Mother. She came home that night with some suggestions from Ms. PickyOPicky about how to encourage her child to color plus couple of names of people of that expertise that she and her child might want to speak with about “the problem.” That night, the Mother experienced a new feeling that has not been felt before, the feeling that her child might have an issue and the dumbfounded thought of, “How come coloring is so important?” That night, the Mother experienced a certain new irk inside her palpitating heart, “Have I missed something about my child?”
The next morning was the first day of the Holiday Break; the Mother decided to take time off from work and spend it with her child. The Child was so excited that, together, they would explore an art gallery. Despite of the restless night and the palpitating heart, the Mom had made a decision on spending time together trying to observe and to converse with her child about the “coloring” matter. Throughout their time in the gallery, the Child did not say anything; she was busy smiling, admiring, and focusing on the paintings and drawings. The Mother observed her child, the Mother paid close attention on how her child reacted on colored painting versus pencil drawing. And after 3 hours of gallery time, they both had lunch together and the Mother started a conversation about what they saw at the gallery. The Child had a great conversation with the Mother, and the Child was freely expressing the thoughts and opinions on the drawings and paintings. The Mother, mostly, was just listening. Throughout the conversation, there was no indication that the Child had any issues nor hesitation towards colors; the Child was equally excited on the colorful painting and the pencil drawings. After the Child finished with her version of the gallery, the Mother, casually, asked as of why the Child never colored the drawings for school or at home, and the Child, felt no judgment nor pressure from the Mom, casually answered, “ Mom, I just wanted to see what I draw from my imagination. I don’t want to see what I draw from real things. I can do that with my eyes.” The Mom was surprised with the answer. It was a simple answer, yet it makes a whole lot of sense. It finally dawned on the Mom that her Child is simply embracing oneself by not coloring. And, the best thing that she, as a Mom, could do is to encourage it, not that she won’t introduce the idea that coloring might be okay every once in a while, but she promised that she won’t define this as a “problem”. And, the Mom would make an attempt to speak with Ms. PickyOPicky that she felt confident about her Child and she believed in her Child. In the future, her Child would probably color everything the Child draws, but in the meantime, her Child will “color” her imagination first.
“Happy Blissful Thanksgiving” ( 2016)...