Between the lines

We put crayons in Jonah’s hands early. Nice fat rectangles of beeswax. He would scribble with one color (usually orange) for less than a minute then either chew on the waxy morsel or abandon the project altogether. Even up through last year, Jonah had no intention/inclination/facility to use more than one color on a page, let alone stay within the lines. I remember being a little offended when one of his Sunday school teachers told me she “helped” him color his picture of Jesus. Didn’t look a thing like something Jonah would have done, and as I imagined someone guiding his hands to stay within the lines, well, it seemed like a personal encroachment (on Jonah or me, it’s hard to say). Still, the ability to color within the lines does mean something. For Jonah, it reveals a progression in fine motor control, which is no small feat and probably has as much to do with him learning to satisfy his large motor sensory needs so that he can work on the fine motor ones.

So when I unloaded his backpack a few weeks ago and discovered the following four exhibits, I was a little stunned. 



















As you can see, we have a red apple (that appears to be a conglomeration of “apple” and “Jonah” underneath), a yellow apple, a green apple, and an apple with a worm. What may look like a rather careless coloring job to most parents almost made me giddy. This is the first time, ever, that I have seen Jonah color with what looks like intention. And the worm is most impressive. He is brown! His hat is orange! The brim is blue! Unprecedented.

But I’m not certain this was completely Jonah’s doing. It’s not that I think someone helped him, but a few days before he brought these home I heard him talking to himself, as if playing back a tape of conversation. “Don’t scribble,” said the first voice. “I’m not scribbling,” replied the second. Then some more mumbly talk. I asked Jonah what he was talking about. “M [I’m leaving out the child’s name here] said I was scribbling!” “How did that make you feel?” I asked. “I told her I wasn’t scribbling! I wasn’t!” he replied as his voice rose higher, into the stratosphere of meltdown land. I’m guessing that M socially persuaded Jonah to color within the lines by letting him know that the way he was coloring was the wrong way. I said to Jonah, “You can color however you want.” But he was stuck on the scribbling and the fact that what he was doing was Not scribbling and not only did M need to know it but I needed to know it and by repeatedly saying so he was somehow inscribing this new rule (he had been previously unaware of) into his brain.

So it seems that Jonah has finally begun to realize there are other people in the world with different ideas than his own about how things should be done. This, of course, is necessary and good, but it’s also a little like seeing a piece of the boy disappear as the world beyond our home asserts itself within his psyche. I suppose this is what they mean by growing up. But I hope and I hope that this world will never be able to sink its claws too deep. Jonah’s otherworldliness is a part of what makes him Jonah. Inimitable.

(I like the one with the worm best too.)

One thought on “Between the lines

  1. Pingback: Influenza Haze | Blue Dog

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