Thursday, January 10, 2013

Coloring. Not just for the kids.

This morning started off like most do. My husband came home from work and went to bed after another long night shift, and my daughter Gianna left for another event filled day of grade two. Breakfast is over and cleaned up and now it’s PLAYTIME for Mommy and Maelle. We started off with some wooden animal puzzles, read some books, and listened to some music. We played grocery store for a while, and then lastly, to quiet things down before nap time, I got out the colors and the coloring books and we started to work on some pages in her favorite Rudolph coloring book.

We start a new coloring page quite often. At two years old, Maelle has the attention span of about two minutes maximum for coloring, so we never really get to finish a full picture. When she is done, we usually just move on to the next thing. This works well for me because I like to make use of the many, many toys, games and activities that we have accumulated in the living room for her enjoyment only. I was thinking that maybe she might just be too young for coloring. Maybe it’s that her personality is too free for such a structured activity. I was so curious, that I actually went to the Crayola website and looked it up! The introductory set of triangular crayons is recommended for ages 24 months+, so no, not too young. 

So, today something a little different happened while we were coloring. SO different that I felt the need to right a whole post about it!

We started coloring and Maelle, of course, wanted to turn the page within fifteen seconds. I hadn’t even finished a Rudolph leg at this point. I looked at her and said “Let’s finish the Rudolph first so we can put it on the fridge to show Daddy.” She looked right in my eyes and said, “Sure Mommy, you can do it.” She walked over to the book shelf, grabbed a book, sat down and started looking through it. I continued my coloring page as she went on to quietly look through about ten different books. She took her time with each one. It was completely out of character for my always on the go, always chatting, always doing something, little girl! After about five minutes, which felt like a century, I asked her if she wanted to come finish coloring with me. She walked over, admired my picture and said “Mommy, you did a very pretty color book. I love-a-the Reindeer.” It was really cute. She is really cute. I love this child so much.

So now, the coloring is away, we have had lunch and Maelle is fast asleep. I am sitting here still thinking about my picture and how amazing those five minutes of coloring were! I thought I would share with you how it made me feel and maybe you may want to take advantage of a little color time for yourself sometime.  

First of all, I was relaxed. My whole body sank into the couch cushion and I felt almost hypnotized by the swirling rhythm of my hand on the paper. My shoulders surrendered to the sway and it felt like the motion was massaging my whole upper body. My fingertips tingled with pure pleasure. Almost like a thank you for allowing them such joy again. They moved so effortlessly through the motions that they once loved, many, many years ago, when they were little and nimble. A motion that only sets in after two minutes of continuous, uninterrupted coloring. Not thirty seconds every other day.

Secondly, I felt happy. Genuinely happy. I stayed inside MOST of the lines! GO ME! I used to love coloring but I wasn’t very good at it and it felt damn good to actually finish something that looked nice in the end. The validation from Maelle was so nice too (wink wink). My feelings of happiness also related to being able to color in peace in the first place, but also due to seeing Maelle enjoy reading her books by herself. That was really cute.

Thirdly, disciplined. Besides the obvious obedience of staying inside all the lines, I used the exact same colors that were supposed to be used for all the characters in the picture. I unknowingly picked a picture similar to the cover so I was able to be all matchy-match. I know I’m weird, but it felt nice to do something exactly the way that it is supposed to be done. With two kids and a hubby that works shift work, nothing usually goes exactly as planned.  Starting something and sticking to it through completion feels great no matter what it is. Today it was my coloring page.

Fourthly, creative. Despite staying inside all the lines and using the same colors as the cover, I felt like a real artist. I pretended that those were my own perfect choices, and I swirled the crayons around inside the lines like I was a professional crayon painter in the midst of the greatest color masterpiece of all time. All of the swirls linked and mingled together perfectly, like magic on the paper. This never happens to me. It was nice and I felt creative, like a real Art-eesst!

Fifthly, nostalgic. I cannot forget about nostalgia. It is probably one of the greatest feelings of all. The SMELL of a crayon will forever and ever allow me to travel back in time to 1988. Right back into a miniature blue plastic chair in Mrs. Williams’ grade primary class. The smell and texture of the freshly sharpened wax after you use the back of the sought after by all, sixty-four pack box, with the built in sharpener. The feeling of the delicate Crayola paper casing as you reluctantly peel it away to reveal more beautiful wax for use. A beautiful red Crayon becomes a veteran. It pays its dues as the sole contributor to the ginormous apple with the worm in it. The grade primary “masterpiece” that has taken you the whole week to color. Nostalgic. Oh, to be in grade primary again with your only worry being staying inside the lines and wondering if you will ever build up enough of those crayon shavings to make a pressed picture to give to your mom for Mother's Day. Oh, the good old days.

The five minutes that I spent coloring today isn’t going to be the best five minutes of this day, but it is most likely going to the most memorable for me. I can’t believe the impact that it has had on me. It is making me ask myself a million questions. Questions such as:  Does my daily life really feel so chaotic that staying inside the lines feels good just for the sole reason that I am obeying a rule? Am I that disobedient or unruly in general? Or do I just need to find some more structure in my life? Maybe I need some more strong daily routines. We tend to just go with the flow on a day-to-day basis around here. Also, the rhythmic movements were so relaxing for me while I was coloring. Maybe I just need more rhythm in my life? Perhaps some dancing? Hmmmmm....


  1. The secret is out of the bag! One of the most rewarding aspects of being a grandmother is all the coloring time. It brings the past and present together beautifully and is soooo relaxing. Occasionally I have to "let go" of my need to finish or stay in the lines and let the children show me the joy of totally free play,something we all seem to forget too easily. Great blog Kate!

  2. Thank you for reading and commenting Jo-jo! It feels like a secret, doesn't it? :)


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