Spiders, Do-Overs, and Fingers

The Tuesday before Halloween I had the pleasure of taking my granddaughter to the library for Story Time!

Because it was just a couple of days before the big day a few of the kids were in costume. The stories for the day revolved around spiders and were well presented by the young lady in charge of Story Time.

After the stories were all done there was an activity for the kids. Each child was given a sheet of paper with a spider web already printed on it. The children were told they would wait in line and then step up to a table and put their thumbs onto an ink stamp and then push the ink spot onto the paper to create the body of the spider. They could do that with several colors of ink to create several spiders on the web. After placing the bodies with the colored ink they were then to take a crayon and draw legs on each of their spiders.

When my granddaughter stepped up to her first ink pad she pushed her thumb on the pad and then proceeded to smear the ink on her paper rather than simply push her thumb on the paper to create the spider’s body. My initial reaction was to tell her she was doing it wrong and that she should just push her thumb on the paper. Fortunately, I caught myself and didn’t say a word. I just let her do what she wanted. She’s two years old. How can she do a project like that wrong?

As I watched her create her masterpiece, which looked nothing like the sample that was shown at the beginning, my mind wandered back to third grade when my teacher walked around the room when we were coloring on some kind of map. She pointed out to me how poorly I was staying inside the lines and I needed to do better. I thought I was doing a pretty good job but my inadequacies became more heightened when she looked at the paper of the girl in front of me The teacher held up her paper as an example of someone who really was careful and took their time to stay inside the lines.

This is the same teacher that sat at her desk during silent reading time and scrutinized the room looking for someone picking their nose. If she caught you she would say, “David, fingers. Fingers, David.” She was quick to point out the faults of those that didn’t meet her standard. She was a busy woman as what third grader didn’t pick their nose?

One of the great things about being a grandparent is you have the opportunity to get a do-over. I can’t imagine how many times I was unable to catch myself when raising my daughters and corrected their behavior on things like coloring a spider, things that really can’t be done wrong, and yet I thought something needed to be corrected. As I now have the opportunity to spend time with my granddaughter I am better equipped to encourage her to color outside the lines and don’t worry about the unknown standard of someone else.

It’s been well over fifty years since I was in the third grade and the voice of that teacher still rings loudly in my head. I’ve spent too much time trying to stay inside the lines and meet someone else’s standard. It’s fun to color outside the lines and not worry about what someone else thinks.

How about you? What does the voice say that rings loudly in your head that keeps you in fear of coloring outside the lines?

Do you need a do over?

What is one courageous step you can take to muffle that voice for a little while?

Proverbs 29:25

This edited blog was originally posted on Nov. 11, 2013.


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