Flowers are Rainbow-Colored. People are Weird.

Let’s teach our children that weird is a good thing. Because it is.

And Nothing You Say Can Change My Mind


And she said, “Flowers are red.”

“Flowers are red young man / Green leaves are green / There’s no need to see flowers any other way / Than the way they always have been seen.”

She’s a teacher, a character in a song by Harry Chapin, speaking to a little boy on his first day of school.

He replies:

There are so many colors in the rainbow / So many colors in the morning sun / So many colors in the flower / and I see every one.”

Chapin’s late 1970s song laments an educational system that teaches kids to see things in black and white (or in this case, only red) rather than all the colors of the rainbow. The teacher admonishes what she sees as an impudent student who fills in flowers with purple and yellow and green and pink and red and orange and shades of them all.

And she said, “Weird is bad.”

This was another teacher, and she was talking to one of my kids. 

My daughter and her classmates were working on a project, and as part of it they were supposed to call out positive words.

“Weird!” my daughter shouted.

‘No, no, weird is a negative word,” the teacher scolded. 

“Not in my family,” my daughter said, unabashed.

“Weird is negative to most people, and nothing you can say will ever convince me it’s not,” the teacher said. “Now, someone give me another word….”

Unspoken, but strongly implied:  “And that’s the end of it!” 

A little background…

We celebrate weird in our house. Off-beat humor, different ways of looking at things, wild notions, ponderings that lead unexpected directions, meanings that take on different meanings over time, and a delightful focus on the world’s minutia. Laughing at what would never be funny to anyone else because of inside jokes and shared experiences. Just plain laughing out loud. 

It makes the mundane rich.

So, yeah, we’re weird. 

And we believe that’s a good thing, that only people who see things differently are able to change the world. We also believe, strongly, that just because most people believe something, that doesn’t automatically make it right, or more right than a different point of view.

Besides, weird is fun. Unexpected. Surprising, like a peanut-butter-n-cucumber sandwich.

The alternative is the human equivalent of “meh.” Milquetoast. Bland. Boring. Like meat and potatoes, even if they are good once in a while.

What’s “normal,” anyway? Or “weird,” for that matter? One person’s junk is another’s treasure; one person’s weird is another’s normal.

It could have been like this, instead.

What if the teacher had said, “Hmmmmm, that’s interesting. Why is that? Let’s talk about it for a minute.” Imagine the discussion that might have followed. 

My hope is teachers, and all kinds of people for that matter, think about underlying messages before we open our mouths to fire off snap judgements. I hope that, more often, we can be like the second teacher in the song:

“… the little boy went to another school / And this is what he found / The teacher there was smilin’ / She said / Painting should be fun/ And there are so many colors in a flower / So let’s use every one.”

Sadly, the first teacher had already beaten the joy and wonder out of the little boy. He replies, in a sad voice:

“Flowers are red, green leaves are green / There’s no need to see flowers any other way / Than the way they always have been seen.”

Let’s celebrate all the differences, possibilities and potential of this wondrously diverse world. “Let’s use every one.” 

Let’s be weird.

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Flowers Are Red

by Harry Chapin

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin’ young man
I’m paintin’ flowers he said
She said,
It’s not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There’s a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only one

And she said
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

But the little boy said
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

Well the teacher said
You’re sassy
There’s ways that things should be
And you’ll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me

And she said
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

But the little boy said
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

The teacher put him in a corner
She said
It’s for your own good
And you won’t come out ’til you get it right
And all responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said, and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin’
She said
Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let’s use every one

But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said
And he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.

Songwriters: Harry F. Chapin

Flowers Are Red lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

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Author: Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, proud Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, blogger and big-time reader. (If you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff.) A ginger, too (ergo the "Red"). At age 50 I'm a newbie to tattoos - I have three now - but the kind artists at the parlor tell me it's never too late. I like hanging out with my best friend, who also happens to be my wife, watching the kids in their academic and athletic activities, writing, hiking and riding my mountain bike.

Let me know what you think!