As a kid I loved any holiday that included a creative aspect to it. Carving pumpkins, dyeing eggs, you name it I was totally on board. Even as a teen and as a married adult before we had kids I still faithfully completed these projects every holiday. I could not wait to have kids so that I could include them in these wondrous activities.
Now I am blessed with three wonderful children with whom I can share these experiences with. And you know what I’ve figured out? People are crazy to do these things with their children. I mean take pumpkin carving as an example. You give them a pumpkin which is generally larger than their arms can get around, and weighs more than they do. Then invite them to basically make as big a mess as they can by telling them to clean out the seeds and guts of the pumpkin. Then (assuming they’re old enough) hand them a jagged knife and allow them to mutilate the gourd to an unrecognizable shape.
Easter egg dyeing is no better. Yes, let’s put cups of liquid which have the potential to stain anything they touch in front of children with slippery round things in their hand which they can roll across the table and knock over said cups of liquid. Then lets make those same slippery round things extremely fragile so that when they drop to the floor they shatter, making them unable to be dyed with the aforementioned staining liquid.
These are the thoughts that went through my head as my children made an attempt to dye their Easter eggs this weekend. Every year I’m filled with high hopes about how wonderful and inspiring this experience will be with my kids. And five minutes in to the process I am reminded why I hate the process so much. But I digress.
So I stripped my kids down to their underwear and sat them around the kitchen table. Yes, their underwear. I’m usually pretty easy going about the kids getting their clothes messy, but seriously why would I purposely put them into a position to ruin their clothing when I’m well aware of the staining potential of the dye? Each child had 6 eggs to dye, and I began by giving each of them one egg and the little crayon that comes with the kit so they could draw designs on their eggs.
Kaylee was the last one to get her egg. I showed her how to carefully cradle it in her hand and draw designs with her crayon using her other hand. Once I had her settled I went back around the table to help Brendan put his freshly drawn on egg into the first cup of dye. As I stood behind him explaining how to use the egg holder to dip the egg Kaylee got tired of coloring on her egg and, being done, threw it to the floor. There was the sickening crack of egg shell smashing, followed by wails of. “egg bwoke.”
After that Matt took over monitoring the boys’ progress and I handled Kaylee. The boys are finally to an age where they can do a lot of the dyeing themselves, but they still have some trouble balancing the egg to get it in and out of the dye cup. Kaylee on the other hand was a handful and a half. She wanted to do it all herself, and didn’t want me to help her. But if I didn’t help her we’d end up with more eggs broken in the floor and she’d have none left to dye.
And so we went through the process. Matt got the boys into a rhythm where as he was helping one boy get his egg in or out of the dye the other was waiting for his egg to finish coloring. There were only a few times that the boys got tired of waiting and began to get impatient. Otherwise daddy kept them calm and occupied. At my end of the table things were not going as smoothly.
Kaylee would wrestle to hold the egg herself, then wrench the egg holder out of my hand. I’d get control back of both things and carefully balance the egg into the holder. Then I’d have her tell me what color she wanted the egg. This resulted in her reaching out with her chubby little fingers to grab hold of the nearest dye cup and try to pull it near her. Thankfully, I kept them out of her reach most of the time, though she has a longer reach than I realized and there were a few incidents that came close to spilling dye all over the table and floor.
Once she picked a color I had her hold onto the top of the egg holder while I stablized it further down. That way she felt like she was doing it herself, and I knew the egg wouldn’t drop off. She fell for it most of the time, and when she didn’t it took some fast reflexes and careful talking to keep her from flinging the egg right off the holder and having it land across the room.
After what seemed like ages we finally got all 18 eggs dyed. We set the eggs aside to allow them to dry for a while, and to give Matt and I an opportunity to regain some sanity from the experience. It wasn’t until after nap that we brought the kids back together to finish our egg dyeing project.
This year I splurged a bit on our egg dyeing kits. Usually I just get the $2.00 basic dye kit. Most of the more expensive ones are an even bigger mess than the basic one and never turn out quite like they look on the front of the package. And with my kids still being as little as they are, it isn’t worth the extra cost. But this year I found something that looked like a lot of fun for the kids, and seemed like it would not be too much of a mess.
In addition to the dye pellets, there were foam stickers and googly eyes that could be applied to the eggs. Each kit made 10 eggs, so I bought three different kits (one per child) and figured that would give them extra pieces and some variety. For Kaylee I got zoo animals, for Cameron I got a pirate kit, and for Brendan a space alien kit. I had it all planned out in my head and thought there was no way the eggs couldn’t end up not looking like the pictures on the front of the package.
Unfortunately, things did not turn out the way my mind had imagined them. I pictured perfect order and each child working from the pack I had bought them. As it turned out the kids didn’t want to stick with their own kits, and quickly began to mix and match the pieces. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t stand to watch the chaos unfold and I went into the kitchen to work while Matt took over peeling the stickers for the kids and helping them apply them.
After it was all said and done I have to admit the eggs turned out really super cute. Cameron was definately the minimalist of the group. Most of his eggs had one or two stickers on them. He generally made a face on it and called it good. Meanwhile, Brendan was the most creative of the bunch. His masterpiece was an mutant lion with 5 eyes and a monkey body. Or the pirate (complete with eye patch) who had an octopus attacking his head. Kaylee just loved the googly eyes. Most of her eggs had quite a few stuck to them.
One egg in particular of hers sticks out as my favorite. She stuck a total of 7 googly eyes to it, and what made it so unique was how she lined them up so perfectly to create a circle of eyes around the top of the egg. So somewhere deep down inside my daughter seems to have inherited my need for order among the chaos. There’s hope yet.
We kept the eggs on display throughout the evening, then stuck them in the refrigerator for the night. We never hide our dyed eggs, for a couple of reasons. The first being that we eat them at Easter dinner the next night, and I don’t think they’d be very good if they sat out overnight in our various hiding spots. The other reason is we have cats, and they’ve been known to mess with the plastic eggs we hide around the house, so I’d hate to see what they’d do with an actual factual egg you can eat.
And so we have survived another year of Easter egg dyeing. I’m hopeful that by next year Kaylee will be mature enough to get through the process without throwing her eggs across the room. It would be nice to get through the process without feeling like I’m in complete panic mode the entire time.