I think, when I look back over this past week, the thing that stands out most in my mind is the countless hours that Elizabeth colored. I personally love to color and colored in my little-kid Disney coloring books through my college years. Interestingly, “adult coloring” has become the rage again, with detailed pictures that need fine-tipped writing utensils and invoke the flare of color and patterns through a methodical and relaxing activity.
As it turns out, both of my sisters and I are colorer’s, with my younger sister being very much into using the adult coloring books, as such, she gifted the kids and I some little coloring books for Christmas. I think that she thought that they were different than they are, but they turned out to be stained-glass coloring books, which is still very cool, and Elizabeth is enthralled with them. Between the two kids, we also happened to end up with 5 new packs of markers and crayons – always good for re-sparking the creativity flame.
Elizabeth misplaced her little coloring book, and so she set to coloring Paul’s book. Then, as I was sitting down to color with her a few days in a row as a means to process the recent loss of the young man in town to drugs (see my last reflections post), she asked if she could do “one” of the pictures in my book, which, unsurprisingly, turned to finishing up all of the pictures. I didn’t mind that she colored my pictures, because as they were of people, or rather fairy princesses that weren’t your typical princess, it gave us a chance to discuss skin color in an open way.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always colored the people in my coloring books all shades of possibilities; even in elementary school I was coloring black-haired and dark-skinned Barbies in my Barbie Doll coloring book (which is still hanging around), as well as all the shades up to rosy peach. Since Elizabeth and Paul are a mixture of a dark-skinned Latino and a fair-skinned Caucasian, they have a wonderful complexion and a permanent tan. Ever since Elizabeth was little I have been searching for books that talked about the different shades of colors that people can come in, and how we are all the same no matter where we come from or what we look like. Our favorite book was/still is Shades of People, by Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly, which we have borrowed from the library more times than I know, as well as The Colors of Us, by Karen Katz. Another that I like is Whoever You Are, by Mem Fox. (The last two I got in a good package deal from Scholastic, so you might look there if you are interested.)
Well, as we were coloring, I noticed that some of my princess’ features lent themselves to different ethnicities, and combined with the fact that I did not have a peach-colored marker anyhow, I colored my girls different colors from my own skin, and Elizabeth liked the pictures very much. She all ready tends to not blink an eye when we are presented with people who look different – they are a part of her world and she accepts them – I’m so glad for that, and I’ve honestly worked really hard at it. When she took over coloring my fairies, she colored them all sorts of different colors too, and showed me each and every one, pleased as punch that she had followed suit. 🙂
My second thought for this week as I mull it over is how much I love this Global Village School curriculum. I do, it’s so validating and affirming.
The book we are doing this week is about affirmations, and affirms the child/reader in their feelings, from happy and safe, to angry or sad. Elizabeth was really interested in the pictures which depict children with many different emotions, and then we drew two activities I had planned into one single one by making “Inuit Finger Puppets,” in which my thoughtful little girl making different emotions on each of the faces.
In addition to the finger puppets, we also made a list of affirmations for Elizabeth. I wasn’t thinking of affirmations when I planned it, more to just list the ways in which she is special just as she is, which I guess is the same thing, but later it occurred to me what it really is. I used affirmations a lot when I was pregnant and a new mom, especially when Elizabeth was an infant, and I still love affirming quotes and sayings; I’m totally into inspirational stuff, anything that makes you feel good like that. In making Elizabeth’s list, I tried to let her choose her items, but when she could only think of the physical (which is very typical Elizabeth), I tried to steer her in the direction of personality descriptions too.
Here’s her list:
How is Elizabeth Special?
1. Her heart – she loves special friends and family.
2. Her heart is her heart, and her body is her body.
3. Her body is crazy. (As in, she likes to be silly and run around, which is something very important to my athletic girl.)
4. She is silly.
5. Sometimes she’s ornery. (Affirming that sometimes she doesn’t like to talk to people in public or that her moods change easily from happy and open to unhappy and closed.)
6. She’s nice.
7. She’s fun.
8. She’s nice to the cat.
9. She’s gentle.
10. She likes what she likes.
If you’ve never done personal affirmations, I would highly suggest it, it’s a great way to convince yourself of things that you may feel like you shouldn’t own but want to, as well as inspire and allow yourself to be who you are. Some that I had when I was a new mom were just things like, “It’s ok to make mistakes. Babies are resilient. I love Elizabeth. I am doing the best that I know how.” Things like that. If you are an aspiring writer, even putting something like, “I am a writer,” is affirming and will allow you to own it. I don’t think that children are too young to benefit from affirmations either, rather, I think our youth really need them!
Share your thoughts: How do you allow your child to own who they are? How do you guide them in accepting all people as they are as well?