Many years ago, I taught kindergarten at a private school. I had several memorable students, but one little girl stands out in my memory. I don’t remember her name, but I remember her pictures.

In those days, I wore colorful eyeshadow, and one afternoon she said, “Close your eyes.” I did and she exclaimed, “Your eyes are like butterfly wings!”

In most ways she was delightful. But her pictures worried me. It didn’t matter what she was drawing or coloring, everything was brown. Brown flowers, brown grass, brown sun in a brown sky with brown birds flying by. He drawings were pretty good, except that they were the color of mud.

I worried. Was she depressed? Was something wrong at home that she couldn’t express any other away? Was she being abused?

Or maybe all the other colors were simply gone by the time the crayon box got the her.

I rearranged seats and made sure she got the crayons first. She picked out the brown and passed the box on. I watched in dismay as she covered the flowers and butterflies in mud.

On day when I stopped to look at her muddy sky picture, she said, “Teacher, do. you know what my favorite color is?”

Yes, I thought. Mud.

She sighed with a smile.

“It’s root beer.”