Easter has always been a big deal in our family due to the Rev’s affiliation with Jesus. When my brother and I were little, we woke every year to brightly colored baskets filled with candy and small toys. Usually, the night before we would stay up late and dye Easter eggs with Mom. I still fondly remember the kitchen smelling like hot vinegar. My brother and I fought pitched and epic battles over who got to use the prettiest dyes – which usually ended in tears and stained fingers.
A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to relive my youth by dying eggs with my nephews. Jovanni was six and Avery had just turned two. I had planned a whole extravaganza for us. We baked and decorated Easter cookies (shaped like eggs, carrots and bunnies), and then I set up the dye vats for the hardboiled eggs.
In my entire life, I’ve had what I’d call “limited” success with egg dying. After living in a small Czech town on the prairie (Wilson, KS “Home of the world’s largest Czech egg!”), I had tried to decorate using traditional Eastern European methods. This required blowing the goody out of the shells, rinsing, and then painstakingly painting each egg with a wax resist before applying special colorant. It seemed like that process would take a very long time, so I tried using rubberbands as a resist instead. The eggs all broke as I was applying the dye layers, and I gave up. Somewhere, however, in one of my art boxes, I still have about nine hundred packets of highly toxic (but very bright) dyes just waiting for me to try again.
One constant in my life is that I always fail to learn a lesson, even after bitter experience. I had high hopes for the kids’ eggs, and the fun they’d have. Mistakes were made.
The first of these was that I shouldn’t have fed the children the equivalent of a pound of sugar before handing them dye-filled coffee mugs.
The egg dying kit that I purchased came complete with little stickers that you could put on the eggs to act as a resist for the dye. Both Avery and Jojo really had a lot of fun glomping the stickers onto the shells. They didn’t understand the purpose of the stickers, though, and so when it came time to dip the eggs into the dye, both kids dissolved into tears because “IT WILL RUIN OUR STICKERS!”
The first dozen eggs wound up covered in stickers and marker, as did Avery.
I boiled another dozen and we tried again.
This time, I managed to get actual eggs into actual dye. Avery couldn’t work the egg dipper loop, and so wound up just plunging the egg and his entire fist into the mug. I laughed and let it go. His mother had gotten furious with me because I’d painted his fingernails bilious green the week before. “Hahaha! That’ll teach her,” I thought.
The kid was beginning to look pretty bad. He was down to just a diaper and had drawn what looked like a demon sigil on his stomach with red permanent felt tipped marker. The areas of his face not covered in frosting were smudged with egg dye, but you couldn’t really see them because he was in constant motion due to a mindbender of a sugar high.
Jojo happily dipped each of his eggs into all the colors to see what would happen. They turned a strange grey-brown color, but he insisted that he loved them.
Now the egg pile consisted of a dozen still mostly white eggs covered in stickers and marker, another dozen strange, grey eggs with some blue Avery fingerprints, and one lone, headless bunny cookie.
It may have been the saddest Easter trove in the history of the holiday.
Then I made the mistake of turning my back on the happy children for all of two seconds to take another batch of cookies out of the oven.
When I turned around, Avery had vanished — along with a large mug brimming with dark blue dye.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I screamed. “JOJO DON’T MOVE!”
“Okay, Ab!” Jojo replied happily, intent on disguising every remaining egg as a rotting, sulphrous monstrosity. I don’t think he even noticed that Avery was gone.
I began to race around my parents’ house in desperate search of the baby. Several of the rooms had white carpet, walls, or both. A disaster of Biblical proportions was imminent.
I searched each chamber along the hallway, screaming for Avery, the Rev, and Jesus in approximately that order.
Not one of them answered me.
Then I heard a happy, “YAYYYYYYYYY!” coming from the Great Room. I hurried in and found an entirely blue Avery running laps around the G.P.s pool table. The now-empty mug lay disconsolately on its side underneath the table.
I grabbed the baby and threw him into the shower, spending a good fifteen minutes trying to turn him back to a people color.
It didn’t work. I pulled him out and put a fresh white diaper on him.
He looked like a Smurf.
The Rev yelled, “Ab, WHAT IS WRONG?” (way too late) and stormed into the bathroom. I tried to hide Smurfy McToddler, but it was impossible because Grandma had entered the room and he had to greet her.
“Hi GwaMa,” Avery said, happily.
“What the hell happened?!?” my Mother exclaimed as Avery toddled off again.
“I think you know,” I replied as I followed the kid.
We headed back into the kitchen. “Well,” thought I, “I have dyed the kid blue. That’s got to be the worst thing that can happen.”
Jojo was still sitting peacefully at the table, churning out weird Easter eggs. There were, however, suspiciously more than two dozen eggs in his pile. I looked closer and noticed two empty egg cartons sitting on the chair next time.
“Jojo, did you get more eggs to color?”
“Yep!” he said, proud of his resourcefulness. “Out of the refrigerator!”
Jovanni had just dyed two dozen raw eggs which looked exactly like the hardboiled ones. I gave up, put the whole mess in the cooler, and poured an industrial sized glass of wine.
The next morning we hunted the eggs and then played raw egg Russian roulette. The G.P. got the worst of it. He loves hardboiled eggs. The dogs were overjoyed.
Avery was blue for about two weeks. Mother’s kitchen still bears scars from that fateful day, and I haven’t dyed an egg since.
Maybe it’s time….