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The Activity That Might Be Best Left to Kids

Yes, adult coloring books are a thing, and no, they do not feature empty line drawings of couples in various coital positions. The trend started in France in 2012, when book publisher Hachette released "Art-Thérapie: 100 Coloriages Anti-Stress," an assortment of mandala-like designs that has since sold more than two million copies. (A mandala is a repetitive doily-esque shape, originally used for spiritual and meditative purposes in Hindu and Buddhist cultures.)

Now, grown-ups everywhere can color inside the lines of titles like "Dia de los Muertos Coloring Books for Grownups," "Bollywood: 70 Designs to Help You De-Stress" and "Color Crush: An Adult Coloring Book for the Modern Girl." Yves Saint Laurent and Hermès have their own coloring books (although, at upwards of $150, I'd rather get mine at Wal-Mart and keep our diaper stash replenished.) There are also silly options, like "The Hipster Coloring Book for Adults" and "Why Is Daddy Sad on Sunday?" but books featuring mandalas and Zentangles seem to be preferred for their Zen-like qualities, encouraging doodlers to practice focus and meditation by using repetitive lines, marks, circles and shapes. It's like journaling, only more fun/less work.

I figured, if coloring in Dora helps my daughter chill out, maybe it'll work for me too.

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It seemed like an extension of the adult BYOB painting studios that have popped up everywhere, and the reviews on amazon were highly motivating. One woman wrote, "When I'm tense or unhappy, I can sit down and lose myself in coloring the patterns with pencil or ink, or crayon. I become absorbed in the rhythms of the line, and in how to enhance them with color."

I could practically taste the Xanax on my tongue.

Another gushed, "The kids are in bed, and I'm coloring by myself. No one is stealing my crayons or coloring on my pages. My thoughts are wandering wherever they want to go. It is soooo quiet. Ahhhhh ... Bliss." Once our LOs are in bed, we still have a crap ton of necessary activities to squeeze in (dinner, work emails, "Bachelor in Paradise") so I knew I'd have to find time for art during daylight hours.

So one afternoon last week, while the girls (ages 3.5 and 1) were happily entertaining themselves, I pulled out my "Art-therapie Sagesse D'Asie: 100 Colorages Anti-Stress." The title promised to instill in me both wisdom from Asia as well as a strong-but-legal dose of anxiety-relief; far more than "Caillou" has ever offered.

Flipping through the book on the kitchen island, I settled on a Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu deity. I swear I instantly felt more relaxed just looking at him, his elaborate headdress and kind eyes beckoning me to fill them in with my miscapped Crayola Washable Markers. I picked up the purple marker and began drawing, imagining waves of stress relief washing over me. I could practically taste the Xanax on my tongue.

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This lasted approximately 45 seconds. Then someone sat on someone's head.

I never even sat down.

Image via Etsy

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