Staying in the Lines | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
September 2010

Staying in the Lines

By: Mandy Burbank

One of my favorite things about being a mother is watching my kids’ creativity blossom. It seems like just yesterday that in Sunday School (I was the teacher) my son Chase’s older “friend” Haley, asked, “Why does he always scribble scrabble?” in the condescending way of a five-year-old. All of my mothering instincts to protect my precious child’s ego kicked into high gear and I had to choke back indignation at the precocious child. Probably, she really didn’t remember that a year ago, she colored just the same as him.

Chase is now five, almost six, and has amazing artistic talent. He draws so many pictures each day that I have to throw most of them away when he’s asleep. I know, I must be a horrible mother, but we would be drowning in underwater aquariums, trains, gears, races and battles, if I cherished each and every product of his active imagination as it deserved. Our walls already seem to be papered in abstract finger-painted masterpieces and homemade paper and glue collages. Intricately designed Valentines hearts, Easter eggs, and paper lanterns hang from every window and ledge. Living in our house is sometimes like being inside of Blue’s Clues’ felt pictures or Elmo’s world, but I don’t mind.

My other son, Pierce, on the other hand is already a composer at three. He has a collection of songs some arranged for piano and some for the human mouth. I can’t quite say humming, it is more like jzushing. But each song has its own melody and tone. Both of the boys know which one is the scary song and which one is the happy song. It’s like they have made up their own language using music and sounds instead of words.

The boys are never at a loss for words. They laugh at each other’s nonsense jokes. Their minds are overflowing with stories and ideas and questions. Chase is now illustrating his own books, dictating to me the words for each page. I know it won’t be long before he doesn’t even need me for that anymore, as each day he learns to read and write just a little better than the day before.

Sometimes I feel put out by his begging me to staple some new creation or stop vacuuming to spell a new word. Sometimes it seems like their exuberant voices are shrill and demanding. Sometimes I feel like I can’t remember what it is like to finish a sentence or even a thought.

But when I do put down the phone or close the dishwasher half emptied, squat down so I can concentrate on them completely, I can’t help but be drawn into their world of limitless possibilities, where every day is jam-packed with discoveries.

They fill my life with laughter and make me pull the two-year-old canvas and paints out of the closet with the idea that maybe I can still make something beautiful. Without even knowing it, they inspire me to dig my journal out from under the boxes of paperwork to be filed, and when I can’t sleep at night, instead of watching late-night tv or taking a Nyquil, I grab my pen and believe that maybe I can write something beautiful. After all, God was gracious enough to let me share a part in their creation, and they are beautiful beyond compare. In light of that miracle, anything is possible!

See more devotions from Mandy and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.