I have the fondest memories of my mother patiently facilitating all four of us kids so that we could make Easter eggs. She would make the time to stop and get cartons of eggs, that too-large-for-the-cupboard-shelf bottle of white vinegar and those thin wafers of primary colored dye. Then she would set to work, hard boiling the eggs in a large pot then setting them in an ice bath and having us tape down newspapers before making the different colored tints we would be using. She would clean out the pastel hued Styrofoam containers the eggs came in and then we’d set about coloring the eggs first with a white crayon or taping off sections to develop patterns before we’d take turns dipping the eggs into baths of red or blue or yellow with that copper octagon-shaped spoon.
I am sure that I have romanticized the hell out of this scenario because dyeing Easter Eggs with my own children went absolutely nothing like that. In the early years, I would do them myself, carefully gathering tips from Martha Stewart Living magazine or crafting books from the library (Pinterest had yet to take off and Facebook was still in its infancy so I had to physically collect these things…). But as our babies got older they wanted in on the action. The first few years I made all the rookie mistakes – making too many eggs (who doesn’t love the smell of three dozen hard boiled eggs in their fridge for several days?!), forgetting to buy the dye (always have stickers on hand. LOTS of stickers.) and my personal favorite, the year I bought brown eggs (for the record, Mr. Take a year thought I had just forgotten to buy eggs to dye in addition to the ones we usually cooked with). But as my skill level increased, my kids’ interest in the project waned.
Last year, I had set out disposable cups, bought rubber gloves for them to use and even had outdoor stations for them to “create” in. Little Sister made exactly two, which she promptly cracked and ate and Big Sister made one and then cried because she didn’t like how it came out. In the end, I dropped the remaining eggs in the dye cups and cleaned up the rest of the mess, remembering ten or fifteen minutes later that the eggs were still in the cups. For the next week I ate emerald green, ruby red and deep, deep purple stained egg whites on my salads. I swore then that this year would be different.
As I was grocery shopping earlier this week I contemplated buying pre-made hard boiled eggs from the deli for salads and I remember my pact with myself. There across the aisle sat dozens of already colored hard boiled eggs and I mentally patted my own back for my cleverness in circumventing disaster. When I showed the girls later they were stunned. How could I have done the eggs without them? they wondered. When I told them I hadn’t – that I had bought them already done they were confused. Why would I possibly buy them when it was SO MUCH FUN to make them together?! they countered, then launching into a beautiful (but inaccurate) version of last year’s events, making no mention of the struggle or the tears…