coloring book

I Am Not (That) Creative

Lauren and I read a lot of library books to my four-and-half-year-old daughter, Betsy.

Recently one night we read a new one called Alex’s Good Fortune, by Benson Shum. The plot goes like this: Alex invites her friend Ethan over to her house for Chinese New Year, and (spoiler alert) we learn about all of the things they do to celebrate the holiday, like doing a dragon dance, getting red envelopes and cooking Chinese New Year dishes.

The story ends with the protagonist, Alex, thanking Ethan for celebrating the holiday with her. It’s a sweet ending, though some of the reviews I read online called it “a bit predictable.”

Anyways, in the back of the book are two pages about the Chinese zodiac, which features 12 different kinds of animals, and your sign is determined by the year you were born.

I have always loved astrology, numerology, and those tests to find out what Star Wars character you are, since I am usually Yoda.

So, I was excited.

Betsy went first. Her sign is a monkey, and according to the book it says she is supposed to be: adventurous (No), active, (sometimes, not in the winter time she likes to stay indoors), and curious (Yes, Betsy is curious, which is why she asks “why”100 times a day.) Overall, pretty accurate, though as parents we need to work on her being a little more adventurous.

Now, it was Lauren’s turn and she scored off the charts. Her sign is a horse, which means she’s independent (very), impatient (extremely) and positive (definitely). She nailed it — three for three.

Finally, it was my turn. I am a dragon. I don’t mean to be a downer, but I don’t like dragons. A dragon is mystical creature, like a unicorn, and I don’t like fantasy. Ok, fine.

My first trait is supposed to be fearless, which is not true and made me depressed.

The second trait is supposed to be ambitious, which I think I am, but if I am honest with myself, I realize I am not, and this made me even more depressed.

The third trait is creative. Undisputed. “That is me!” I thought, until Betsy said: “Daddy’s not very creative when he colors.”

“What? Just because I want to color the Disney princesses the same colors that they are in the movies?”

“That is not creative Daddy! Creative is using different colors than the movie.”

Then she showed me examples from her coloring book a Jasmine with bright red hair, Ariel with purple skin and a Belle that was completely orange.

“That is creative, Daddy,” she said, proudly turning the pages.

Being a super creative person, like being funny, is important to me. But the truth is she’s right, I am not creative in coloring, and I’m not creative in a lot of other things I do, either.

I like to think of myself as this crazy improv guy, but deep down I am a rule follower, and sometimes in improv it’s helpful to follow the rules and sometimes it helps to go rouge. That is how we find our voice. It’s through the process of taking risks and occasionally bending rules.

Maybe I can apply this to my coloring.

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