This morning my children were being particularly annoying and grumpy, and I was also feeling particularly annoyed and grumpy. It was hot, there weren’t any ice blocks, and I had a million things to do. So I wasn’t exactly thrilled when the three-year-old came up to me with a colouring book, begging for crayons.
As I dug the crayon bin out of the bottom of the cupboard, thinking of all the things I should be doing RIGHT THIS MINUTE instead of fossicking around for THE OTHER BLUE, NOT THIS BLUE! for my toddler, I started to feel even more annoyed and grumpy. So when she insisted I sit down and colour with her, I had to bite my tongue to keep from snapping, “No! Mummy does NOT want to colour!” Instead, I picked up the black crayon (black like my ANGRY SOUL) and started rage-colouring with a fury and intensity that’s usually only reserved for scoffing illicit chocolates I don’t want the kids to know about.
The three-year-old was delighted. “Mummy, you colouring!” she said, patting me proudly on the hand. “Good job!” And she started contentedly colouring the facing page.
Now, this was my cue to stand up, announce that I needed to go do something since she was all set up with crayons and colouring book, and hightail it outta there. Instead, I sat a bit longer. I switched to dark blue. It was a Sesame Street colouring book, and I was colouring Cookie Monster. I concentrated on keeping my crayon strokes inside the lines of his fur and looked at his silly, happy face. The three-year-old moved over to my page and started colouring in the cookies pink. Why the heck not.
We flipped the page, and there was Oscar the Grouch staring up at me. I found the green crayon and started to fill in the lines. The three-year-old kept up a running commentary on the characters, as Sesame Street is currently her favourite thing. (The Wiggles are a close second. She likes Lachy Wiggle the best, but Elmo still wins over everyone.) “You colour Oscar,” she told me. “Oscar grumpy.” Indeed. Mummy was pretty grumpy, too, but now…
As I coloured in Oscar’s rubbish bin with a grey crayon, I realised I didn’t feel quite so annoyed and grumpy as I had at the beginning. I was no longer rage-colouring, muttering to myself about all the things I had to do today. I was calming down.
There were still a million things to do, and still no ice blocks, and it was still hot, but my soul didn’t feel like that thick black crayon anymore. I didn’t even feel like Oscar the Grouch anymore. Maybe the three-year-old is wiser than her age would indicate. Good job, Mummy.
Editor, Tots to Teens