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A coloring break saved the day

As most of us adults do from time to time, I was having a bad day recently. There wasn’t one single thing that made it that way, just a collection of several little things, and it was making me stressed out and grumpy.

My grandkids were over and gathered around the table coloring. I sat down on the couch and watched them for a bit when one of them handed me a crayon and instructed me to help her color her picture. I made the argument that Gramma wasn’t in the mood but she would have none of that and ripped out a page of her Little Pony coloring book and slapped it down in front of me.

With a sigh, I relented and started to color the picture of the little pony with flowers in her hair riding on top of a rainbow. As I did as a child, I first outlined the area I was coloring, then filled it in.

“Why you do that?” asked Alexandrea, 4.

I replied it was just something I used to do when I was little and colored a lot. She nodded and started to do the same. Five-year-old Arianna and 4-year-old Adam followed in kind and the three were quite proud of their newly-found coloring skill.

The stress of the day melted away and my mood lightened. We hung our pictures on the refrigerator with the kids making sure mine was hung up next to theirs.

I figured this feeling was what started all the recently hype of adult coloring books. A study somewhere started showing up online that coloring was a great stress reducer and of course, someone somewhere decided to capitalize on it and adult coloring books soon started popping up in stores at $10 or more a pop.

As the craze picked up, prices dropped as more and more similar books were made available. Artists found a new source of income and many are now selling self-published books or pages they drew themselves for people to buy.

I bought one from Walmart and some colored pencils. The adult coloring books are much more detailed and crayons are often too wide. After one picture, I felt more stressed out than when I had begun. It was such an intricate picture with so much to color that it took forever to finish and I started to worry more about how good it looked. It was the last time I picked it up.

Why do adults always have to over complicate things? I know millions of people have found a new hobby in these adults books and I don’t begrudge anyone from that; however, the whole original point of coloring to reduce stress was lost for me in those books.

The reason it relaxed me that day with the kids was because it made me feel like a kid again, with no job to worry about, no bills to pay, no daily reminders of getting older. I giggled with my grandkids when I pressed too hard and broke a crayon because I had “big grown-up hands.” Together, we got excited and showed each other our artwork as we finished one part before moving onto the next. Sometimes, we even colored on each others’ pictures.

For a brief moment, I was 5 again and making the most important decision of the day — to color the pony pink or purple.

Pink won out.

Give me the $1 kid coloring book and 50 cent box of crayons over the expensive fancy books and pencils any day.

But more importantly, it is the company I keep while going back in time.

If only it could last forever.

alyssa schnugg is city editor of the EAGLE. Write to her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com