Crayons and Hospital Beds

The lessons our younger selves teach us


Robin Solecki

What should a child do when she has crayons but no paper? When four-year-old Julia Solecki wanted to showcase her artistic abilities, her creativity took over and the answer was right in front of her.

Although, at times, I’ve felt disconnected from who I was as a child, I’ve always found my way back to her.

I remember it like it was yesterday. My father walked through the door after a long day at work and was immediately greeted with my creativity, all over the walls.

“Who in their right mind would draw on the walls?” he asked. When I proudly confessed that it was me and not my older sister, my father not so calmly asked why. I told him the truth, “I had crayons but no paper”.

Over the years, I have been told that I am too loud or that I need more boundaries. This has, at times, caused me to suppress the wildly creative child in me. As I mature, I have come to realize that much can be learned from the girl who drew on the walls. In art, and in life, creativity is more important than coloring within the lines. When I was faced with the problem of having no paper to draw on, my creativity took over and a unique solution was uncovered.

I’ve come to learn that embracing your inner child is increasingly important as we grow older. It keeps us creative and excited about life.

Throughout my life I have needed to find my paper creatively. Whether it was solving a problem or expressing myself, I have frequently faced the challenge of using my crayons when no paper was in sight. As I grow as a person, I continue to find new ways to use my gifts and express my personality, even when it is not exactly what others want or expect from me.

One story that illustrates this point takes place in a hospital bed. I had been experiencing a difficult stomach bug. I was unable to eat or drink. I landed in the emergency room on an IV. After a few hours, I became extremely bored. In an effort to entertain myself, I began to bounce on the bed. I had created a way to occupy myself, with nothing more than my surroundings. When the nurse commented that I could get hurt, I responded, “What difference does it make, I’m already at the hospital.” Like my answer to drawing on the walls, this response, while not expected, was true.

When reflecting on these stories, I am reminded of the version of myself that found joy in every situation. Through my creativity and thinking outside the box I was able to leave my father, the lawyer, speechless. Even when confined to a hospital bed, I was able to find a way to smile, and make those around me smile. These stories serve as a reminder that no matter the obstacle, as long as I stay true to my younger self, I can always find a wall to color on or a hospital bed for jumping.