They’re my Crayons. I’ll show you exactly how to use them. But I won’t let you.
This is how my husband described my childhood issue with my Crayons. I think it’s pretty accurate. Let me explain.
As a kid, I loved to color. For the longest time, I got along with my little box of 16 measly colors (I was a spoiled kid), wishing I could color Cinderella’s gown Cornflower when all I had was Blue. Then one day my mom came home from a shopping trip with that magic box of 64 Crayola® crayons – the one with the built-in sharpener on the back. (I’m hearing a choir of angels right now just thinking about it.) I carefully opened the lid – how cool was that lid? – and beheld the majesty of the 64 different colors. Maize! I had a Maize crayon! They were packaged so carefully, with the crayons subdivided into four smaller boxes. It looked to me like the people at the Crayola® factory arranged the colors into four coordinated and happy groups. It was just beautiful.
And that’s where my issues started.
Any time I used my Fantastic Box of 64 Crayola® Crayons, I would carefully select the color that was exactly appropriate to the item I was coloring, gently slide it out of its spot in the Smaller Box Inside the Big Box, color with it lightly (after first meticulously outlining the section to be colored), then slide it back into its appointed space. Thus I maintained the order and beauty of The Fantastic Box of 64 Crayola® Crayons the way the fine people of Binney & Smith had worked so hard to provide.
Then the neighborhood kids came to my house to color.
We headed to the basement where my little kid-sized table & chairs were. There was the Fantastic Box. As I spread out the selection of coloring books, I watched in utter horror as my friend Beth opened the Fantastic Box and dumped the contents out onto the tabletop. I was speechless. But not for long.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” I shrieked.
Beth was just as dumbfounded. “Coloring.”
“NO!! YOU CAN’T DO THAT!! THEY’RE IN ORDER!!” Panic was beginning to rise, along with the pitch of my voice. Binney & Smith were never going to allow me to have another Fantastic Box of 64 Crayola® Crayons if I didn’t fix this fast.
“DON’T TOUCH THEM!” I hollered. I tried to envision that pristine box. Was Cerulean next to Brick Red, or Indian Red? Or was that Blue Green?
Beth just stared at me. “You’re weird,” she pronounced, and picked up a crayon & started coloring. Roughly, too. I lost it.
I have very little memory of exactly what I said and did right then, but I think it involved some pushing and grabbing. Poor Beth got disgusted and left. I did my best to put the Box back together the way it was, hoping that Binney & Smith would forgive me.
And thus it happened every time one of my playmates came over to color. I would hold tightly to the Fantastic Box of 64 Crayola® Crayons, and instruct my little friend in the acceptable usage of my crayons: take one at a time, do NOT peel the paper, and put it back in the exact spot that it came from. God help the child who broke one. They were banished from my basement indefinitely.
It’s safe to say that I lost more than one friend over my fascism. But it didn’t faze me.
Here’s the sad part: I see this quirk raising its horrid head to this day. I’m very picky about how my classroom equipment is used & stored. (This can be quite a problem, as I’m in charge of several video cameras, tapes, microphones, and headphones for our broadcast program.) I have two pen/pencil holders at work: one that is for anyone to use as they wish, and one that is MINE. I get very uncomfortable when anyone mistakenly takes something from the MINE holder. I manage to not yank whatever it is out of the hand of the poor unsuspecting student or colleague, but my stomach is slightly queasy until it is back in its home in the MINE container. I even prohibit students from touching anything on my desk. I keep it light, and thankfully they always comply, asking before they come into the Magic Space (as they call it.) I’m also responsible for the maintenance of the school’s laptop carts. Just close your eyes and imagine what kind of stress that causes me. I keep a large supply of Tums in my desk.
The Crayon Fascist lives.