by Aurora Bordeaux
Recently, I spent time with my darling little niece and nephew at their house. (Plus my youngest niece crawling under the table who I accidentally stepped on. She didn’t even seem to notice; being the third child is rough.) As a childfree woman, I often get confused and disoriented when playing with children because their games don’t always follow a discernible plot. Plus I got in trouble with my sister-in-law one Thanksgiving for taking the game to new and evidently unsavory heights…
Here’s what happened: The kids and I were playing cars, then it became cop cars, then it became a zombie outbreak that involved green-eyed deer and launching a huge teddy bear down a long flight of stairs multiple times. Problem was, the contaminated bear kept coming back to life, so we had to keep throwing it down the stairs (letting it roam free would have been irresponsible). Leading the game into dark territory may not be my proudest moment as an aunt, but it was lots of fun, and the kids liked the zombie romp so much they still talk about it. I guess Presbyterian households don’t play zombie often and they got a taste of something they liked. Oops.
When I was invited over to help prep for my niece’s birthday party, I was so glad my sister-in-law wasn’t still miffed about the zombie episode that I was ready to be her full fledged birthday party bitch. Harrowing interactions with swarms of children aside, being asked to help plan a birthday party is fantastic because I love arts and crafts. I mean, effing love them. (I recently read the Brick Bible’s Revelations chapter, and it terrified me, so I’m trying to eliminate foul language or at least save it for special occasions. It’s not going well.)
Prep for party decor didn’t take as long as my SIL anticipated, and she seemed open to me hanging out until the kids came home from school. I was cool with that—I like these kids. After we picked them up from the bus stop and they took their shoes and socks off and went through the entire contents of their backpacks, we sat down to color. And that’s when I remembered something I had completely forgotten: I love coloring.
There is something so absolutely zen about washing coats of color over paper, filling in lines that were meant to be there, and ending up with something that, though it is mass produced, is completely yours in every way. I am obsessed with color and doodling is like taking a bath in it. Coloring is all about making choices that don’t have dire consequences while having a chat, listening to a book, or just letting your mind flatline. Meanwhile, you watch an empty image mutate into something lovely.
So as an aunt, I figured enjoying coloring with the kids couldn’t go wrong. And yet, after not too much time and despite my solemn promise to myself that I would be on my best behavior, I appear to have taught the children naughty tricks all over again. I drew a mustache on an evil character in the Disney coloring book, and the children were aghast. How could I so deface the image? Didn’t I know I was just supposed to fill in the blanks?
“It’s okay because Jafar is evil, see?” I said. They chewed on this, and agreed that Jafar was indeed evil. “Watch.” I drew lightning bolt eyebrows, a curly beard, black fingernails, chunky jewelry, and a big clock necklace. That got them giggling.
I got up from the table to help with more party prep, and when I came back, I noticed more of the characters were sporting mustaches, although the kids had drawn them upside-down because they were new to defacement. There were pages and pages and pages of mustaches. Next to a fat facial-haired bear from Robin Hood, one of them had scrawled “I’m a girl” in hot pink.
“Did you write that?” I asked, aghast. Who were these little churchlings turned urchlings?
“Yeah,” their shoulders sloped and they covered their mouths to mask the giggles.
Like I said, I effing love these kids.
PS, If you want to color along with ‘Ole Bordeaux, here are the coloring themed gifts I gave myself for the holidays. I am having a giggle of a good time working my way through them! I spent eons researching these and am tickled with my choices.
- Craft-a-Doodle: 75 Creative Exercises from 18 Artists. I love this book! Doodles can be as simple or complicated as you want, and there’s no wrong way to be creative with the exercises. A win!
- Tiffany Designs Stained Glass Coloring Book. I was surprised to discover the “pages” are actually a kind of wax paper, so when you’re done, you can really put them up on windows. Cool!
- Pentel Color Pen Set, Set of 36 Assorted Colors (S360-36). If you need a fresh set of markers–and don’t we all–these are good and also not expensive. I wish there were more yellows, but other than that I like this set a lot.
- Coloring for Grown-Ups: The Adult Activity Book. The Hubs found this funny-bone coloring book for adults. My favorite page is “Hipster or Homeless.”
If you have a favorite coloring book and want to share it with fellow adults who love to color, leave a comment! I’m going to be through with these books soon and I’d love recs.