I don’t know what it is about toddlers, but they just do NOT understand an overly obsessive-compulsive adult’s need to FINISH coloring a picture before moving on.

I need closure. I need my picture to come to fruition and fulfillment of it’s potential. I need to look back and say, “Well done, good and artistic Rachel.”

What I DON’T need is to be forced to quit one picture and move onto the next before I’m finished. I want relationship with my pictures!

It wasn’t too bad at first. She would stay entertained long enough for me to at least finish all of the characters in my picture:

And although I would look back with longing at the unfinished background as she hurriedly flipped the page, I could feel okay about it. At least looked like I MEANT to do it that way.

But then it got worse. She started to “emulate” my coloring. Meaning that she would color inside the lines, and in each area.

However, her idea of coloring an area was one squiggle of color. So she would completely “finish” her picture, and therefore be ready to move on, WAY before I would be.

AND, if I tried to stall, she would just begin to “help” me with my picture, which, although I would never let it show to her, would somewhat deflate my coloring perfection balloon anyway, and then I’d WANT to move on with her.


Then it got worse. She gave up the idea of coloring a squiggle in every area and just began to widely scrawl across the whole page and declare it done. I didn’t even get to finish ONE character anymore:

IMG_1165 IMG_1168 IMG_1170IMG_1175

She would only grant me extra time with a picture if I used a lot of PINK, her favorite color. But all mercies, of course, ended before the picture was complete.


This next one reminds me of my Christmas stocking growing up. It was a cross stitch template stocking that Mom never finished stitching, so it had spots of color stitching intermixed with black outline where color was supposed to go:


(Ah yes, the troubles of a middle child. My stocking is now well over 20 years old and, you guessed it, still not finished.)

These frequent artistic interruptions made me feel so incomplete, unthorough, and thoroughly un-therapized by my coloring.

So then I started to try and amuse myself right before the page turned, but drawing a mustache or something:


But, although it made me smile, it didn’t fill that emptiness that lived inside of me.

Finally, the crest of my creativity frustration came when I got about two inches of outline colored before I was told it was time to move on:


So I decided to revolt. I picked a page, and insisted that we stay on it until I was finished.

Of course, she quickly bored of the coloring activity and moved on to play other things.

But that was fine with me.

I moved on to the living room with her, coloring book (and box of crayons) in hand.

I worked on my picture, and worked on it some more. Chris came home from work. I looked up, gave him a kiss, and went back to my picture.

And finally, the masterpiece was finished:

IMG_0687(I was especially pleased with the midnight black behind the curtain. It takes a lot of work to get crayons to color that dark.)

And I felt so good. So completed. So peaceful. Nay, euphoric even.

So I did it again a few days later:IMG_1163
Then again. IMG_1167

And again:


And you know what? This therapy has helped me so much, that I don’t even accidentally break all of my crayons anymore.

I guess that was a subconscious outpouring of my now-dealt-with need for coloring closure.

Ali, on the other hand, may be getting to the brink of frustration with my dogged commitment to my coloring completion. Hopefully from this, she’ll learn that relationships are much better when they last a lifetime, instead of a speed dating frenzy.

Or, maybe she’ll just come to realize that her Mom is a complete and total obsessive-compulsive dork.

17 thoughts on “Coloring With a Toddler is Like Speed Dating.

  1. My mom is a closet-colorer. She loves to color! And I guess I do too. You are very good though. Contrast of colors, light and dark shading, very nice Rachel!

    That is so funny, because I feel the same way. I want to finish before we move on. I ended up just tearing my page out and working on it myself. You might could try just giving her one page and telling her she had to finish that one before she could get another. Of course her finished would be different than yours, but it might give her more of an idea of what finished is. Just a thought.

  2. That is hilarious! You're so good at coloring:) I'm too A.D.D. to sit and color like that. Ali can color with me any time:) That kind of coloring is right up my alley (no pun intended)…

  3. First, let me again say that I am amazed at the saturation of color you can achieve. Second, you could always just tear the page out…

  4. I love coloring! My son actually sits with me to do it because he believes that every speck should be colored (background, margins…all of it!)

  5. That is exactly why I don't enjoy coloring anymore. I got tired of never finishing a page.

    And, I too, was very impressed with your midnight black background!

  6. Beautiful coloring job you've done. It must be a phase that all kids go through, because I went through the same thing with BOTH of my girls

  7. It's good to know you haven't lost touch with the purpose of your coloring. . . the whole mother-daughter experience thing. . . : )

  8. I love to color it is very relaxing for me. Although I don't have a toddler to color with. I am sure that my nephew will be just like Ali, and want to move on before it is finished.

  9. I love the coloring thing. I would much rather finish than have to move on so often. I don't blame you for getting frustrated. :) :) She'll grow out of that one day and want to color a whole picture too. :) :)

  10. So funny! It's been a while since I colored with my daughter. Thanks for reminding me. It will save me next time she asks me to play Polly Pocket. Surely she will be happy to color instead!

  11. So funny! It's been a while since I colored with my daughter. Thanks for reminding me. It will save me next time she asks me to play Polly Pocket. Surely she will be happy to color instead!

  12. I love to color! At least mine are old enough for everyone to have and want their own coloring books

  13. Great blog, Rachel! I meandered over after you posted on mine. (Thanks for that shout out by the way!) My mind ain't what she used to be, but I do recognize you and your husband. Do you remember when/where we met? Was it through The Storehouse or Westwood? Just curious.

  14. First, I want that veggie tales coloring book for Christmas, ooooh, my birthday is first. Second, I would be crazy if I could not finish my picture. Today I watched a Beth Moore video twice because I missed 2 of the words to fill in and I felt incomplete. yes, OCD is tough. Third, Ali has no business speed dating. LYB

  15. You are a fabulous colorer with those bold shades!

    I can't even sit down to watch my kids color as they make one mark on the page and turn it. They get a new book and have to mark once on every single page and then go back to more in depth coloring.

    Hmmm, Maybe I drank too much caffeine with them when I was pregnant?!?!

  16. This post has be cracking up. I could have written this! I love coloring, and when I do so with my 2 year old I never get to finish my page.


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