So, according to Amazon, grown-ups have discovered coloring books. Coloring books for adults, including The Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, have hit the best seller list. (By the way, the fact that I've described them as "intended for grown ups" and the fact that one has the undertone-y title of The Secret Garden may indicate that these are "adult" the way the "adult film industry" is, but they're G-rated, I assure you.) This very website has covered the phenomenon on more than one occasion. And, honestly, I'm going to do a really hipster thing right now. I am going to say the magic words: "I was doing this way before it was cool."
Coloring. Is. Magical. I honestly don't know why we stop at some point in childhood. Did it ever stop being fun? Relaxing? A great thing to on the back of a diner place mat while you wait for your eggs and toast? No, no, and no. But just like everyone else, I probably stopped doing it around the time I left grade school. But then I went to college and I learned a few things. I learned how to read Middle English, and how to identify an Iron Age Israelite jar, and what differentiates a short story from a novella. I also learned that finals are really stressful.
So one evening, tired of reading and re-reading, and writing papers and short stories, some friends and I decided to do the least stressful thing we could think of: We went to the toy store and decided to buy some childhood. My friend got a baby doll, I got bubbles, and we both bought coloring books and a big beautiful box of crayons. Let me tell you, nothing—absolutely nothing—can zap you out of a funk like sitting quietly in your room with some Radiohead and coloring books. The sound of the crayon on the paper, the casual art of choosing the right shade of blue, and watching the page come to life stroke by stroke all have this completely zen effect. There's only one thing that makes it better...
Because we're adults, damnit. I mean, it's not a requirement, but I'd recommend it.
So here's the real question: Why are we all spending a ton of money going out every weekend when we could have wine and coloring parties with our friends in our apartments? Can we make this a thing? And while we're at it, here are some more completely wonderful and relaxing childhood activities I would like to add wine to and codify as hip social trends...
My husband once told me that he's never seen me happier than when I am on a swing, and he's probably right. Unfortunately, unless you are accompanied by a child, playgrounds are generally off limits for adults, and if you are accompanied by a child you really can't enjoy it because you're "responsible" for the "well-being" of your "kid". I recommend "adults only" playgrounds. Just imagine how much fun we could all have day-drinking and getting our see-saw on!
Play Doh Gatherings
Playing with Play Doh, I'm convinced, triggers many of the same endorphins coloring does. It's totally soothing, squishy, and smells amazing. (And, if my daughter is to believed, it's also delicious. I swear that girl tries to eat the stuff like it's hummus.) Hypothetically, you could take, like, a pottery class or something, but then there's the pressure to come up with a decent looking project. Play Doh asks nothing of you. Go Doh.
Not like "adult sleepovers" (I mean, those are fantastic, too, and I recommend those), but why don't we do sleeping bag-style sleepovers anymore? Wine. Friends. Movies. Painting nails. Wine. Talking about crushes. More wine. Junk food. Wine. Wine. There is absolutely no downside to this. Let's bring these back.
Giant Parachute Soirees
If heaven exists, then surely it looks and feels like being underneath the big parachute in gym class. The harsh fluorescent light is softened and colorful there, and you can giggle with all your classmates, friends our not, in what feels like a shared secret hiding place. Imagine that feeling only slightly tipsy... or slightly baked?! Giant parachutes are available for purchase: there's nothing stopping us.
Blanket Fort Retreats
Everything you can do that can make you happy would be even better if done in a blanket fort. It's like a happy little cocoon of relaxation. You've heard of mancaves and she-sheds, but blanket forts are low maintenance, non-permanent, easily constructed unisex versions of these things. We already have all the materials we need: carpe diem, fellow adults!
Images: Jamie Kenney (2); Getty Images(1); Giphy (3); Rhythm Band Products (1)