Color this, bitch.

She wanted to be a “pretty mom.” She wanted people to find out her kids were in kindergarten and second grade and say, “I can’t believe you’re old enough to have an eight-year-old.” Her skin was smooth and her hair healthy and she always wore sundresses with big straw hats. But not old lady at the beach type get-ups, more like the kind that say, “I read the fashion section of Vogue and Oprah for my casual summer ideas.”

For being as calm and reserved as she seemed to be, her kids were rowdy. But I did like her daughters. Whenever the three of them came to the restaurant I was working at, it was in the dead hours of the afternoon. The girls would come up to the counter, spin on the stools and tell me stories about monsters that turned people into pies. Talking to Izzie and Christa was considerably more entertaining than talking to my ghetto fashionista co-worker about shoes or colored jeans. Pretty mom liked to pretend Izzie and Christa’s stool spinning bothered her, but she’d simply passively tell them to come sit back down from the comfort of her booth.

One day, Pretty mom actually stopped at the counter on her way back from the bathroom to ask the girls to sit back down. I busted out my no-fail trick with children: I told Izzie that if she went and sat back down, I would bring her some crayons. Izzie’s eyes lit up. Pretty mom rolled hers and said, “Oh are you a baby?” Christa got really excited too and asked me, “Can I color too?!” Pretty mom said, “Oh I have two babies?” I said nothing, but thought, “OH lady, your kids are getting the big box of crayons.” When I brought the 24-pack of Crayolas to the table, Pretty mom said looked at the girls sheepishly and apologized for them. I looked at her and said, “Hey, I’m 23 and I still color.”

I watched the girls color. I thought about visiting family in Texas when I was in middle school, the trip when my sisters and I convinced our second cousins to get kids menus at restaurants and color with us. Every time I waited on Pretty mom after that, I brought out the crayons for Bella and Rosie. My mom didn’t teach me much about being pretty or dressing up, but she taught me a lot about coloring.

Note: I know the technical “big box” is the 64 pack, but the 24 pack in my possession was the big box compared to my other option of a seven pack of crayons.

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