A few weeks before Christmas Clint and I went on an actual date….ie we didn’t just go to Target a few minutes before our small group and count that as a date but we actually did something fun and went out to dinner at a real restaurant. As part of our date we also stopped at Barnes and Noble because we both love books. While we were wondering around I found the kids section and found two books that I read while standing there in the aisle. They made me laugh but also struck a cord with me. I informed Clint that we were getting them for the kids for Christmas. The kids have really enjoyed them, but I think I have as much and they have really made me think.
The books are about crayons. The first one, The Day The Crayons Quit, is about a little boy who opens his desk and finds a stack of notes from his crayons about how they are not happy with how they are being used. There is everything from the gray crayon complaining that he always has to color big things like hippos and whales and he would like a break to color pebbles or baby penguins from time to time. Pink crayon is upset because the kid’s sister colors fairies and princesses all the time and pink wants to color dinosaurs and cowboys. The white crayon feels useless because usually no one can tell that anyone has colored with him, and orange and yellow have an ongoing argument about which one is the true color of the sun. The black crayon is tired of outlining everything and wants to be used to color a black rainbow or beach ball sometime instead of just the outline. Tan crayon complains because brown gets all the good things and he only gets to color sliced turkey and wheat and kids don’t usually color those things. And it goes on and on. In the end the little boy colors a huge picture that meets and exceeds everyone’s wishes/desires/requests and all the crayons are happy.
In the second one, The Day The Crayons Came Home, the little boy receives a stack of post cards from all the crayons he has lost or forgotten. The maroon crayon writes to tell him that he got left in the couch and broken when dad sat on him and now paper-clip is holding him together. Pea Green writes because no one likes peas or the color of them and so he’s taking off to see the world. Neon Red writes from the swimming pool on vacation where she got left behind, and Burnt Sienna writes from the carpet after being eaten by the dog and vomited up. The Glow In the Dark crayon got left in the basement, and the toddler crayon writes asking to be taken in by the little boy because his baby brother keeps biting him and sticking him in the cat’s nose. Orange and Yellow have given up their argument about which one is the color of the sun because they got left outside and ended up melted together. And this theme continues. The little boy goes and gathers all the lost/upset/broken/ etc crayons and brings them back to his crayon box. Only most of them won’t fit in the crayon box so he constructs a new home that accommodates their new forms and selves and issues.
The kids think the books are hilarious and they love the glow in the dark crayon’s page and we always have to turn the lights out and let it light up. (Honestly if more publishers would put a page or two of glow in the dark in their books they would sell more books….kids love that!). But the books really make me think. In the first one, I think about how often we are not happy with whatever in life we have been assigned to color….we get tired of coloring all the big things, or we are upset and want to color something else that we think we would be better at, or we spend far too much time arguing or thinking that we are coloring our sun the right color and that other person is coloring their sun the wrong color. We worry that our coloring of wheat is insignificant or that no one can see our coloring because we are the same color as the paper we are coloring on. It’s great at the end of the book that they all get their wishes and get to color what they want to, but in reality that usually doesn’t happen in our world. And so for me it serves as a good reminder to color the things in life that I’m meant to color. It’s going to be different than what someone else is going to color, and we can either spend all our time wishing we were someone else or watching to see how others do their things and be prideful that we do it better, or not realize the significance of our color. I think in reality while the picture may look great with everyone coloring what they want, in life, the picture is going to look far better if we color to the best that we can, what our color and life was meant to color. We’ll complain far less and fully be who we have been made to be.
With the second book, all the crayons were beat up, whether they had been lost, broken, vomited up, left behind, or run through the dryer (one crayon is now permanently stuck to a sock) and they are limping and struggling to just get by. And in reality this is humanity at its core. We have all been beat up and spit out and crumpled. And we all need someone to gather us back up and take us in our broken state and give us a spot that we can be our new selves. The true healing that needs to happen will occur on the other side of death in heaven by our Father, but the truth is that we can all learn and work to look after each other and those around us. We’ve all been there, it may look different for each of us, but despite our imperfections we can join together and help each live out and reach their full potential.
And so while my kids love to read the books before bed and we laugh and giggle through them, I have found that they actually have some pretty clear life lessons and reminders for me each time I read them. And so I try to remember to fully be myself and be proud of whatever color is mine to color my life with, and at the same time, realize that I’ve been broken and beat up and yet I can help encourage others and allow others to help restore me and learn to deal and work through the scars and weaknesses that come with walking this earth.