Coloring Books: Not Just for Preschool Anymore

When I first heard the words “adult coloring books” mentioned on the local news earlier this week, my first thought was, “Oh, great. Another FSoG-inspired gimmick.”

Thankfully, the real story was much less sordid than I had first imagined. Apparently, coloring books are growing in popularity among adults, giving them both a creative outlet and a safe, relatively-inexpensive way to relieve the stresses of work and everyday life.

Really? Some people are just discovering the stress-relieving benefits of coloring? I’ve known about this for years. All through college, and even afterwards, I kept at least one coloring book and a box of crayons, markers, or colored pencils hidden away in a desk drawer. Sometimes when I’d had a tough week of classes, exams, and term papers, or a hard week of processing student loans that had defaulted, I would go off by myself with my crayons and coloring books and spend an hour or so creating something beautiful by filling in lines with Carnation Pink, Periwinkle Blue, or Burnt Sienna. I loved seeing how different colors looked together or how just the right shade of green could make magic of a simple drawing of a tree.

As is the case with most news stories, this one seemed to die out within a couple days’ time, and I forgot about it, only to have it hit my radar again this afternoon in a very unlikely place.

I had a minor surgical procedure at the hospital this morning, and as I lay on my bed in one of the recovery bays, I overheard a lot of conversations from the nurses’ station. My ears perked up when I heard one nurse refer to the news story about coloring books for adults. Another said she loved coloring and often did so in her spare time. The conversation continued for a couple minutes, with other chiming in how much they loved this simple childhood activity.

This seemingly innocuous conversation was not without its heated moments; these nurses take their coloring very seriously! They began discussing the quality of the various brands of crayons on the market. Hands down, they all agreed that Crayola was the best. One nurse said she still got a thrill out of buying a brand new box of sixty-four Crayola crayons (probably the same thrill this writer still gets when she buys a new notebook and pen). None of them liked a lot of the cheap knock-off brands whose sub-par hues and overly-waxy textures made a mess of their pictures. It almost seemed that I was amongst a group of crayon testers instead of in the Post-Op Recovery area of the hospital.

With so much negativity in the news these days, it’s a good feeling to come across a story like this, one that takes us stressed-out, technology-driven adults back to a simpler time in our lives, when a line drawing and a box of crayons (Crayola crayons!) could soothe away a day’s worth of troubles.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go color a picture.

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