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Fingerpainting This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Thesummer before kindergarten, my brother, a few neighborhood friends and I satexcitedly at my family's red picnic table. Feet swinging well above the grass inanticipation, I looked in awe at the great globs of paint my mom poured intotrays. Vivid reds, daring yellows and rich blues danced before my eyes, creatingvisions of the masterpieces I would create. I instinctively knew this was aspecial treat and no ordinary paint. This was finger paint.

Mom set apiece of paper in front of each of us, warned us to be careful not to touchanything but that paper and let us start. Pressing my fingers into the slimypaint, a sickening feeling overtook me. This wasn't at all what I had expected!My breakfast quickly found its way to the top of my throat as I franticallyattempted to get the monster off my hand. I didn't lose my breakfast, but Iwasn't able to fingerpaint without gagging.

Finger paints weren't my onlydisappointment. When my kindergarten class was to make plaster of Parishandprints, I experienced the same problem. My teacher came up with a temporarysolution: she pressed a few paper towels against my mouth and pushed my hand intothe goo. I gagged, but ended up with something to show for mytrouble.

Even though I couldn't do certain art projects, I found otherartistic outlets. Markers, crayons, colored pencils and paints (with brushes) allallowed me to express my feelings on paper.

Like many children, though,somewhere along the way I compromised my imagination. To receive praise fromteachers and parents, I learned to create the things they liked to see. I learnedto color between the lines, make roses red and violets blue. I don't see any blueroses growing in our garden, but what if there were? Because we are trained toaccept only normal things as children, we see only what is considered normal.Deep inside each of us there is still a trace of creativity waiting to bereleased, but it will only happen when we allow it to flourish.

If you'veever listened to a great choir, orchestra or band, you have probably picked outthe melody, but were able to hear many other parts as well. I love listening tomy choir sing in four-part harmony. The melody is present, but the beauty comesfrom the other three parts. They add a whole new dimension and can transform evena simple song into something no one would have dreamed of when it was just afunny little melody.

By reinforcing the melody of red flowers and blueskies, we end up creating a generation that expresses not what they want but whatthey know others want. We need some people to grow up with their feet on theground, but need some who explore the uncharted seas, who aren't afraid to drawblue roses or purple rabbits.

The blue-rose people need to be reminded,however, that there are appropriate and inappropriate places and ways to displaytheir originality. The melody of love, forgiveness and tradition needs to becomplemented by the harmony of new ideas and acceptance.

If we all playin the same key, things will work smoothly. If a choir decided to sing in the keyof D, but a few members wanted to be unique and sing in E, listeners would covertheir ears in dismay. Those standing nearby would make every effort to get themback in line. Similarly, killing, lying, stealing and other forms of hatred donot enhance a harmony; they destroy the unity of people singing different partstogether and cause the entire group to fall apart.

As children learn todraw, tell stories and become unique individuals, it's important that they areencouraged to be themselves, whether singing the harmony or melody. Creativityisn't something to be feared but rewarded, as long as it is sung in the rightkey. Let's haul out our finger paints and make way for the beautiful purplerabbit of a child's imagination.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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