Coloring Inside the Lines

The other night I spent several hours on the phone with a dear friend and writer who was filling me in on her life and what her little girls are doing. Her oldest is in first grade and really stressed out (Did you know they give homework in the 1st grade??!!?? - what is up with that?) This little girl, like her mother is very capable and smart and just wants to do it right. She loves school, getting good grades and pleasing her teacher. Her teacher really emphasizes coloring inside the lines. I certainly understand the importance of coloring in the lines, learning to control your hand and movement, paying attention to the details, being proud of your work. But this is really quite stressful for this little girl and it makes me so sad that coloring has to be stressful.
When I was a kid, I distinctly remember how at peace I was with my box of crayolas in front of me --which I meticulously arranged in some order by shade or rainbow order ROY-G-BIV before even beginning my coloring masterpiece. I would color in my very own coloring book, one that I did not have to share with my brothers. I'm sure I spent hours upon hours at the kitchen table or laying on the rug in my bedroom coloring inside the lines. All I had to think about was what color to put in those lines to make it a beautiful masterpiece. Sometimes I would play color games -- if I could only choose one, which would it be? An impossible question to answer. Even now, I can think of very few things that bring on such peace. I think I'm going to treat myself to a big box of crayons and coloring book today. But at some point, I'm not sure when - perhaps first grade - I started drawing my own lines to color in. These step by step instructions come from Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals. I've had this book since first grade I do believe and still LOVE looking at it. He still makes books to help kids and (big kids too) learn to draw.