Color me happy: books inspire my inner artist

You know what’s fun as all heck? Coloring. I love to color. Like in coloring books. I am 35 years old.

Granted, I probably went a good quarter century without coloring—that awkward time in a man’s life between 8 years old and becoming a dad—but I simply cannot pretend it is not an extremely enjoyable endeavor.

Our daughters have 8,000 coloring books. Really, a new coloring book emerges every single day, from where I do not know. Plus there are the family restaurant placemat coloring thingees that are covered in food and drink stains but that they absolutely INSIST on bringing home because they promise to “finish” them (they don’t). My point is: our home does not lack in mediums on which to color.

But I know what you’re asking: Do you have crayons? YOU BET WE HAVE CRAYONS. Thin crayons, thick crayons, broken crayons, half eaten crayons, crayons with paper coverings, naked crayons … all kinds of crayons. The only crayon we’re perpetually missing is the color you absolutely need to finish coloring that duck’s suitcase: brown. Am I right, dads? Ha, ha … brown is always missing. Freakin’ brown, man.

I don’t know if it’s the blissful nostalgia of recalling the zero responsibilities of childhood, when coloring itself was considered an accomplishment, or the pure satisfaction of executing a wonderful color scheme perfectly within the lines, but whatever it is, coloring is great. Here is how great coloring is, picture it:

Whenever the girls are bugging me about doing something I say, “Let’s color!” They say, “Yea!” Then I ask them what coloring book they want and one of them will choose something dumb like a Halloween Elmo book. I’ll say, “That is seasonal, makes no sense.” But she’ll insist, and then the other one will say, “NO I WANT THAT ONE,” and then they both lose it and get timeouts. Twenty minutes later I will tell them what book they get, and we lie on the floor, open our books, and commence coloring. By that I mean I will commence coloring and they will play around with the crayons, complain about their coloring book, and, worst of all, try to color on my book. I will say, “Yo, girls, BACK OFF. Look at how beautiful I am making the water in this giraffe’s swimming pool … I don’t need your scribble on here, you are going to RUIN it.”

On our best coloring days, the girls can control themselves enough to where I can finish an entire page. I become irrationally proud of my work, especially when compared to theirs—honestly they are terrible at coloring—and legitimately wonder if it would be weird to hang it on the refrigerator or maybe frame it. If my wife is coloring with us, I will look at her page and it will be out-of-this-world fantastic and I will become very frustrated. How did you even do that? That belongs in a museum. Women are just better colorers than men. No sense in fighting it.

Although my brute manliness is certainly what’s holding me back from being the world’s best colorer, it has not adversely affected the joy derived from the act of coloring. It is the best and I highly recommend it. Go for it! Buy a coloring book today and also some crayons. Don’t worry, it is not weird. (If you have kids. If you don’t have kids it is very weird and I am reporting you to the police.)

Note: This column appears in the 8/15 issue of The Glendale Star and the 8/16 issue of the Peoria Times.