Sometimes, go outside the lines
By By Paul Keane
It's amazing from time to time what you can learn from a child. That applies no matter how old you may be.
Earlier this week, I had promised Steven, my 5-year-old son, that I would sit down with him the next night and color with him. He was so excited that he talked about it the rest of that night, in the morning and through most of the next day.
The moment arrived that next night and we sat at the kitchen table, three coloring books and a rather large bucket of crayons, markers and assorted other writing instruments in hand.
Steven carefully picked out which picture he would color first. Then he picked out which picture I would be decorating with my crayons.
I began coloring like I've always done – for as long as I can remember – right inside the lines and with what I thought was great precision and care. After all, neatness counts. Or at least my six years of Catholic education always taught me that fact, whether it is true or not.
My son, though, was busy scribbling and scrawling, switching out crayons and markers much like a pit crew changes tires in a NASCAR race. Every once in a while he would pause, sit back, take a quick look and then continue on with his coloring.
He had a passion that perhaps I lacked, as I was more worried about details and making things look good so people would be impressed.
I missed the fact that just sitting there and coloring with my youngest child was impressing him much more than the actual look and design of my work could ever do.
At one point, I reminded him to stay inside the lines. He told me that he didn't want to do that.
Wanting to impart some knowledge and wisdom – while also teaching my young protege a valuable lesson – I asked him why he wanted to color outside the lines. Without hesitation, he told me because it was fun.
Lesson learned, by the father. Maybe we all need to get outside the lines every once in a while.
Paul Keane is Publisher of The Atmore Advance.