One of the great things about having kids is the nostalgia for one’s own childhood that comes with the various phases that roll by. For instance, as a child I was the number-one fan of the Easy Bake Oven, which is saying a lot considering I didn’t even own one. My friend Holly had one and every time I went out for a sleepover I’d lay awake sending her a singular telepathic thought: Wake up and give Christy your Easy Bake Oven.
It never happened.
My joy in making tiny baked goods in tiny cookware has not diminished in the decades since I coveted Holly’s oven, so when my daughter’s Easy Bake phase was in full force I was all over it. We’ve had frog phases, fizzy experiment phases, and Lite Brite phases, all of which I’ve enjoyed. But this new phase was one I’d forgotten all about and it brought back waves of joy: the paint-by-numbers phase.
My sister is an artist and yet I have absolutely no skill when it comes to drawing or painting. I’m decent with visual design, but if you asked me to create any piece of fine art you’d assume I’d done it left handed. And blindfolded. I’m simply incapable of translating what I see to the page or canvas in pictures, which is why I found so much comfort in paint-by-number kits as a kid. It was pure magic, the way you could follow the formula and end up with something that, to my young eyes, looked completely professional.
Being able to produce a painting of a lighthouse or a fawn was like all of a sudden knowing how to perform surgery or fly an airplane – a skill that had been completely out of my grasp was now within reach. Of course, it was an illusion of skill but does that matter? I can’t decide if it does or not. I just knew it made me happy.
I think I’ll give it a try this weekend. And I might pull out the old Easy Bake while I’m at it.