I Failed Coloring

Colossians 3:23-25

In 1986, Robert Fulgham wrote a clever little book, All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten.  He expounds simple life lessons from Kindergarten rules:

1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don’t hit people.
4. Put thngs back where you found them.

I learned nothing in kindergarten.  Actually, I never attended kindergarten. It wasn’t required as part of public school, and most were private affairs, much like a day-care. I went for one day and told my parents, “No thanks.” I already knew how to do what they were doing. They were probably relieved, since they would have had to pay tuition out-of-pocket.

Off and on through my academic career, I struggled. It’s not that I’m a slow learner; I’m actually very bright and a quick study, and that was the problem. Once I had mastered a concept, I got bored and was ready to move on to bigger challenges. In kindergarten they were counting, learning their colors, and working puzzles. I could do all that. I wanted to learn to read, and that happened in first grade.

Bypassing the kindergarten experience, I did my “need to know” learning in first grade, and what a tutelage I had.  The first grade teacher at Balmorhea Elementary School was Mrs. Pox, a stout German frau whose personality matched her name, short, to-the-point, no-nonsense. She spoke, we obeyed.


One day, we were instructed to color a sunflower for art.  The white paper with a bold, black, detailed outline of a large sunflower was distributed.  The instructions were clear. Outline the petals in black and color them yellow. Outline the seeds in black and color them brown.  Outline the stem and leaves in black and color them green. I have already mentioned my distaste for redundancy. I looked at the outline of the sunflower, and I could see no rationale for outlining all those seeds (there must have been over a  hundred) and all those petals, not to mention the leaves and stem. It was already outlined bold black! I hastily scribbled some yellow, some brown, and some green, and I laid it on Mrs. Pox’s desk, ready to move on. In previous exercises, I had already proven my ability to fully color within the lines.

As you might expect, I got the paper back with a big red “F.” I had to stay after school and re-color a brand new one. I was frustrated, humiliated, and agitated. The lessons I learned in first grade that day were simple.

  1. The hardest person to teach is someone who already knows.
  2. Details matter just as much as the big picture.
  3. Resist the “good enough” impulses.
  4. Complete seemingly meaningless tasks with as much fervor as important ones.
  5. Mrs. Pox is not one to be trifled with.
Published in: on August 8, 2017 at 3:20 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. 😊

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