Don't Cry Over Spilled ... Vinegar?

How to cope when something fun, like dying Easter eggs, turns into a cry fest.

Christina Corcoran

3 min read

Some things are a classic for a good reason, like your Paas Egg Dye kits. I used them 40 years ago and they still work today. However, this year I decided to try something new. Famous last words, right?

I saw a picture of Tie Dye eggs on the infamous Pinterest and after thoroughly reading the instructions and all the comments, I thought, this is something the kids would enjoy.

I gathered all the ingredients: hard boiled eggs, vinegar, gel food coloring, whipped cream, a muffin pan, and toothpicks.

Before letting the kids get involved I explained the process: Soak the eggs in vinegar for 10 minutes, spoon whipped cream into muffin cups, add a few drops of color to each cup and stir gently with a toothpick, place eggs in cups and let them soak for 10 minutes, turn them over and wait another 10 minutes, rinse and pat dry. Easy Peasy, yeah?

The swirls of color combinations got us all excited. But once it was time to flip the eggs, things got chaotic. My five year old grabbed the darkest colored egg with her whole hand and wanted to plop it in the lightest colored cup. "Wait," I exclaimed, "You don't want to hold them in your hand like that because they stain!" I saw the large bowl of vinegar and told her to soak her hands because I read that the gel dye can really stain your hands, but you "simply soak a towel in white vinegar and rub it off.". I turned around to get a paper towel and heard a loud SPLASH. My seven year old was trying to soak her hands in the bowl of vinegar, but it was too far away and she knocked it over. Vinegar flooded the counter and cascaded onto both kids laps. A chorus of cries filled my kitchen. My youngest started crying because the vinegar spilled on her, then my oldest cried because she made a mess.

The old me would have immediately reacted with a loud gasp and probably a disappointed head shake, but I'm trying to change old habits so I told myself, it's only vinegar, don't get upset. I then grabbed a towel and told them it was all okay, just an accident. I cleaned up the mess and asked them to go change into dry pants. My oldest kept apologizing. I hugged her and reassured her she had nothing to apologize for. I helped her scrub her hands but the color barely faded. I tried to lighten the mood by telling her she looked like the Green Goblin, but she wasn't ready to laugh. "Have you heard the saying, 'don't cry over spilled milk,'' I asked her. She looked up at me, tears in her eyes still, face red and blotchy from crying, and shook her head no. I said, "Things spill. It happens to the best of us. Nothing to get worked up over. We are humans and humans are not perfect." Then I asked her, "If I had spilled the bowl, what would you tell me?" She is an expert in offering others compassion and comfort, but she has not learned how to give it to herself. These are the moments I write about in my book.

In retrospect, I wouldn't have told them to soak their hands in the bowl of vinegar, but even more importantly I'd have them wear gloves to flip the eggs. I told the girls this is how recipes get written; how scientists figure out problems. They learn from their mistakes or things that weren't easy or fun and revise for next time.

I finished flipping the eggs myself and rinsed them without their help. After they dried, I got some funny face stickers and let them decorate them like their favorite characters in The Good Egg's Great Eggscape by Jory John. Spirits were up and good times were back!