Which way do you color?

When I was 4 years old I was enrolled in nursery school at our church. I was so happy to be going to school. My sister had been to school, and she knew so much more than me. I wanted to do everything she did, and know everything that she knew. On the first day of nursery school, as Mom was dropping me off at the curb, I saw an Asian boy. My sister told me he was Chinese (he must have been, because my sister said so). My first day of school, I hadn’t even gotten out of the car yet, and already I had seen a whole new kind of person that I never saw before! School was going to be great!

Imagine my disappointment when I found out we were going to color. I wasn’t disappointed the first day, of course. I liked coloring, and now I had a whole pack of 8 fat crayons, brand new, in a box with my name on it. We also had the daily distraction of cookies and Kool-Aid to keep us from noticing, but eventually it was clear… this was a coloring class. And worse yet, the teacher was very serious about coloring. She had rules.

In fact, she had one rule. We were to color side-to-side. This was very important. So important that there was a song she taught us to sing:

When I color I go side-to-side
When I color I go side-to-side

I suspect she wrote it herself. She would walk around the room, inspecting our artwork, and woe be to the unfortunate little boy or girl who was caught coloring in any manner other than side-to-side. Not only would she announce your transgression to the class, but she would also then ask the class to sing the side-to-side song, in hopes that this mnemonic device would aid you in your coloring.

I don’t want to brag, but I was pretty good at coloring. I’d been coloring for a while by the time I got to nursery school. Not only had I already learned that using consistent crayon strokes creates a pleasing look, but I could also stay in the lines. I had even learned some advanced techniques from the older girls down the street, like how to outline an area with a dark color (press down hard) and fill in the space with a lighter shade of the same color (don’t press down so hard). And I had been coloring long enough to know that I did my best work on the diagonal. I was not going to allow this woman to control my artistic expression! I would not let her indoctrinate me with her side-to-side propaganda!

I quietly rebelled by tilting my paper and coloring diagonally.


21 thoughts on “Which way do you color?

  1. I can’t color, draw, or anything that has to do with art. So expect i can’t color within the lines. But I just say to myself (to make me feel better) that that’s because I don’t conform and I think outside the box (haha!)….whatever 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I got publically humiliated at school for colouring in wrong. I’d been away the day the class was taught to colour side-to-side so inadvertently ruined the class project of a huge picture of a wooden ship. Felt tip Nazis.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Uh, I color however I like, how it suits what I’m coloring, because my coloring is for fun, and not to please anyone other than myself. What an odd teacher. I taught kindergarten, and as long as all the children were having fun, then they were doin it right! Good grief.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve thought about this over the years, and I’ve tried to give her the benefit of the doubt… this is the only plausible reason I could think of: she was given the task of teaching us how to behave in a classroom. Since there was no real class work, she had to work with what she had, which was coloring. The side to side rule was created for the sake of giving us directions to follow. Or she’s just nuts.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. …coloring, it’s texture, light and shadow, etc. Which is more t than your average kindergartner cares about, sure, but you learn by doing and exploring. She did all of you a huge disservice. (Sorry about that first part getting posted mid-sentence – in writing on my phone.)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post. After reading your response to the comment ahead of this, I’m going with “she’s just nuts.” Staying within the lines, maybe OK as a rule. side-to-side, up-and-down, who cares? I always wonder how many of these little “rules” it takes to rob children of the fun that are supposed to have. I know that discipline is important, but there are many ways to achieve that without coloring dogma. Some adults take life too seriously. I’m glad you found a way to hang onto your style 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Little kids need to be able to color in any way they wish, soon enough there are rules in life. Coloring is a form of art and should be free to express oneself. I did use to take the black out of children’s boxes, when they were preschool students of mine, though. This is a form of preventing the tears from flowing, for example one would create a colorful flower, butterfly or rainbow but before long drag the black crayon out and somehow ‘ruin’ (they would say, ‘bring it back!’) their pictures. So, then I would say, if anyone wished to add dirt, an outline or a dark sky, just let me know the black crayons are in the basket on the table. Then, at least they had a chance to think before scribbling over their ‘masterpieces!’

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I would go toward the idea of what you said about you been in an army town. This post made me try to think back to how I colored when I was little. I don’t remember any specific rule except to not color outside of the line.

    Liked by 1 person

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