Coloring, Kids, and a Bite of Humble Pie

Listen. I wasn’t going to tell you that I bought into the adult coloring book trend. I know, I know. Even though there are studies and testimonies and all sorts of people saying “They’re so awesome! They, like, totally calm me down!” I didn’t want to admit to it, too. I don’t know why. It’s…embarrassing? I AM A BUSY WOMAN, I say. I am so STRESSED, I vent. Oh my goodness, it’s all just so very HARD, I wail. So I’m certainly not going to sit here and tell you that sometimes–jus sometimes–when I’m having trouble figuring something out, or puzzling through writer’s block, or feel like the whole world is falling around my shoulders…I color.

And yet I just did. Damn it.

11.19.15. Coloring. Cian coloring 1Here’s the deal. I’m just like you–the mom who would sit down with her kids when they pulled out their coloring books and join them, not just because it was yay bonding time, but because, selfishly, it was fun to have an excuse to just color in a picture of Snoopy in a Santa hat once in a while. It was relaxing. It refocused the brain, somehow. So, really, it makes sense that I’d want to do it in a book that isn’t filled with Peanuts characters. I can sort of admit to that.

But here’s the funny part: it often stresses me out, these ten minutes of coloring here and there (you’re shocked, I know). To have to press the pencil into the paper hard enough to make the colors blend together. To not screw up the pattern I wanted to keep going (which I do, every time). To stay inside the lines. Ugh. As a recovering control freak…oh, ugh. The pain my brain endures while trying to have fun, I tell you. The struggle is real.

11.19.15. Coloring. Crayon boxThe other morning I was sitting at my desk, stressing about something. I actually think it was my to-do list: I just didn’t know were to start. Riley was lying at my feet, and Cian was playing with toy fire trucks on the floor beside her. It was a gorgeous, warm day outside my window–the kind where, later, the kids and I wouldn’t make it back into the house until an hour and a half after we got home from school pick-up because everybody–including me–wanted to stay outside and play. Cian got up from his toys, stepped over (onto) the dog and climbed into my lap to see (interrupt) what I was doing. He spotted the mandala I was almost finished shading in.

“Oooh, Mommy,” he said. “Dat’s boo-i-ful.” I thanked him, and he asked me what color I would use next. I bounced the question back to him: “I’m not sure, Cian. Will you help me choose?” and he picked out a color. Then he started using it. To color. On the almost-completed pattern that had taken me a billion years to do in ten-minute stretches, the one I was about to finish, the one that was almost, sort-of except for the spot where I screwed up the color pattern, (because, duh, it’s me), perfect.

11.19.15. Coloring. Cian pointingBut he colored. Then he put that pencil back and chose another one, and used that. Then he switched that out for another, and so on, until he was almost all the way around the circle and asked me to pick out a color, and join him. So we took turns. We colored together, all the way around, until it was finished. And then Cian put his pencil back in the container, leaned back against me, and said, “Dere. Dat’s boo-i-ful.”

11.19.15. Coloring. Mandala 2And it was. But you knew that already. And oddly enough, it was the most relaxing ten minutes I’ve ever spent, as an adult, with a coloring book.

11.19.15. Coloring. Mandala 1But you knew that already, too.