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marching to the beat of a different crayola

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There are so many things that stick out to me about my school years, especially kindergarten.

I was in Mrs. Barton’s class, along with about half of my graduating class. Little did I know, many of the same kids with whom I used to spend hours gluing pencil boxes together and trading crayons would be the same kids I would stand beside as I tossed my graduation cap high into the air outside of Wallace Hall a mere 13 years later.

But I digress.

I remember crawling up into Mrs. Barton’s big orange chair, which always seemed to be so much bigger to the 5-year-old me, and reading to all the other kids from my latest library book. Among those selections were such literary classics as One Fish, Two Fish and Stone Soup.

I also remember being Mrs. Barton’s special assistant and getting to go on errands and such during naptime while the rest of my juvenile classmates sleep on their plastic fold-out mats, pretending to nap.

I felt invincible.

One of my favorite times, however, was when we were given papers on which I was able to use my favorite things of all – crayons.

I loved to color. One of my most treasured gifts as a kid was this special Crayola turnstile that you could put your crayons on and gently spin when you needed to view the full array of your crayons, all right there at arm’s length. It even had a sharpener built in. Perfection.

I remember slapping a kid (I still remember his name, Frankie) in the face because he spun my turnstile around so hard that all the crayons went flying.

He deserved it. And it would have been much worse had the teacher not stopped me. God help Frankie if I ever run into him in a dark alley…

And again, I digress.

One day, the teacher passed out a coloring sheet to all us eager kindergarteners. I was ecstatic. For this was no ordinary coloring sheet…oh no. It had special rules and directions. Kind of like a puzzle.

My specialty.

There were caterpillars on it, I believe. Or maybe ladybugs. Whatever. They were bugs that crawl. The amount of legs makes no difference.

There were rules such as, “Look at these two bugs. (I did.) Color the bug on the left orange, then color the bug on the right blue. (Piece of cake.)”

Moving on.

“There are 10 bugs here. (Duh, I could count.) Pick two colors. (I chose red and green – Christmas colors!). Color seven bugs one color, and color three bugs another color. (Child’s play, I said to myself.)”

I set to work. I started first with my green crayon. One green bug…two green bugs…and so on until I had colored seven green bugs…or so I thought.

Being ever methodical and OCD, even as a child, I put my green crayon away, right then. I didn’t want to risk losing it, or breaking it, or even worse – having someone steal it. (The worst thing I could do was to let my precious green fall into the grimy, grubby hands of Frankie.)

I set out to coloring my red bugs with my freshly sharpened red crayon. One…two…three…four…wait a minute.

Four?

There were only supposed to be three red bugs.

Apparently I had begun on the seventh green bug, but something distracted me (as usually it did), and I had forgotten to completely color the last of the green bug.
But I had already packed my green crayon away…I didn’t want to have to get it back out again.

I looked from the page, to the crayon in my hand, back to the page again.

Eh.

I decided that I would just do what I thought was the most logical thing.

Rather than go through all the trouble of getting out of box and unpacking my green crayon again, I would simply fill in the white spots with my red crayon. It would look nice and complete, and no one would be the wiser. Besides. My teacher would see that I had started coloring it green and merely topped it off with a touch of red. She might even be impressed. And I had stayed inside the lines the whole time. After all, I was the colorer who had won coloring contests at the local K-Mart. I knew what I was doing.

Anyway – I was one of her favorites. Right?

So I did it.

Imagine my shock when the teacher passed our papers back out and I had less than satisfactory marks on my paper.

It took me years before I realized what I had done wrong.

I guess the moral of the story is, don’t take shortcuts. Because in the end, you’ll only be left with a red-and-green bug and a sad face.

At least, that’s what I got.

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