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Thursday, July 31, 2014

just the way we do things around here

Unbeknowst to me Sandi had promised Ella we could paint their room this summer.  

So last week this was the conversation in our house:

Ella:  "Didn't you promise we could paint our room this summer?"
Sandi:  "Yes, yes I did."
Ella:  "Well, when are we going to do it?"
Sandi:  (pause)  "Suz, think we could paint the girls room this weekend?"
Suzanne:  "Aren't you on call?"
Sandi: "Yes, but this is the only weekend we are home for the rest of the summer.  It is kind of now or never.  Hopefully I won't get called a lot."
Ella: (silently watching with a look of unbridled glee and anticipation)
Suzanne:  "Do you know what a big project that would be?  Just cleaning the room out would be huge."
Sandi:  "I know.  And I have to fix all the walls.  But I promised."
Suzanne:  (thinking perhaps this was not the time to comment on exactly what is promised to our children and when) "Yeah, okay.  Let's do it."

And so it began.

Sandi and I don't really know how to do anything small or easy.  We are only partly realistic about time and the energy and effort a project takes and we often make up for it by staying up into the night to hammer stuff out.   It will be shocking to our kids when they become parents just how much we do "behind the scenes"when they are asleep. 

Friday was spent packing up the kids room.  I kind of really loved that part.  I have fantasies of the clean slate approach and ideally putting only half the stuff back in.  Sandi tackled sheetrock repair (holy...the things the walls of kids' room withstand and the stories they could tell) with a can of mud (spackle) and a knife.  The girls and I got down to the serious business of rearranging their room.  What can I say? We work with our strengths.

Saturday morning was incredibly productive.  I got up early to ride my bike since I had to be home by 6:30 since Sandi was on call.  Maya decided she was ready to master two wheeled bike riding before 8 am.  Sandi got called in and it seemed to make sense to wait to get paint until she was free.  The thought of two kids with different ideas duking it out in the paint section of Lowes had me sweating.  So instead I mowed the lawn and then we went to pick raspberries.

And it was only 11:30 a.m.  I felt like I needed a nap.

Signs of learning to ride a bike.  
I have never seen such a determined child.  She just kept at it, refusing all help because she wanted to get it herself.  And she did.  I have to say, watching both our girls master two wheels has been one of the highlights of motherhood for me.  There is something about them going from totally not getting something to being able to do it all on their own that makes my heart burst.

And yes, we realize she looks like she is riding a clown bike.  We started her small on purpose. 
 Post raspberry picking lunch. (Thanks Jeanne for sharing your berries with us again!)

I can't help it. I love pictures of beautiful food.

Sandi was free again after lunch so we met up for paint selection.  There is a fine line between allowing your kids creative freedom and maintaining the resale value of your home.  I believe we straddled the line and then fell squarely on the side that significantly depreciated the value of our house.

I wanted so much to say NO.  NO WAY.  What about this soft lilac and butter yellow trim?  What about basil and cream?  

Every cell in my body protested.  But I wanted my kids to have this freedom of choice, this expression of themselves in their own space.  Plus Sandi was looking over at me like, You must not veto.  You cannot control this.

And now their room looks like Sweet Frog.

Lime Mousse accented with Pink Destiny
We are serious about our painting around here.
By the time we got paint, sanded and then cleaned the walls,  it was after supper when we started actually painting.  The kids were psyched to be given a roller, real paint and permission to put it on the wall.  We worked for a while with them, then put them to bed on cots in our room and worked into the night.  We had the music going and it was just like old times of us tackling projects together.  It was exhausting fun as my body reminded me of all I had done between my 4:30 wake up and this nighttime painting.

The "before" pic came out horrible so here is the best I can do.  The walls were a pale yellow with matching trim from when this had been our room before we built the addition.  This pic is taken after we had primed the walls white.

 We were sort of banking on Sandi not getting called Sunday since it is usually a quieter day.  But Murphy's Law was in full effect and since there was painting to be done, her pager went off promptly after breakfast.  It soon became obvious that she was going to be gone for a while and if we were going to get the room painted, the girls and I needed to start painting.

Have you ever painted with kids?  How about in an unbalanced ratio of parent to children?

As I got the supplies ready, I considered knocking back a couple of drinks and then gave myself a pep talk and told myself it is just one's life is on the line can do this.

 Years ago when Sandi and I remodeled our house (and long before we built the addition on to it), Kristi and I were going to spend the day painting while Sandi was at work.  We were working on the miles of trim for the many, many windows we have in our house.  Kristi had this brand new, expensive brush Sandi had bought to cut the edges of where the trim met the wall.  I was responsible for rolling the flat, broad parts of the trim.

We worked along for a while.  I asked Kristi if she wanted to switch.  No, she said, she was fine.  We worked for a few more hours.  I said, "Would it be okay if we switch?  My hand is starting to hurt doing this."

There was a long pause.  Then Kristi said, "Well, the thing is, Sandi sort of asked me not to let you paint this part.  I can't give you the brush."

This is a true story people.

So I have a bit of a reputation for being a bit of a sloppy painter.   I am the roller in our relationship and Sandi is the edger which I believe to be a metaphor for our lives as well.  After I paint, I am covered from head to toe in paint.  I have speckles of it in my hair, on my face and all over my arms and legs.  I look like I got into a fight with a rabid paint can and lost.  Sandi barely has a splotch.

As with many things, though, this works well for us.  Our strengths balance and paint together peacefully and productively.

But here I was, the machine gun painter, with two inexperienced children and no one to temper us.  What would become of this room?

Suddenly the brash colors were a gift.  Who cares if it is imperfect when bright lime and Pepto Bismal pink is going on the walls in a kids room?

I chased the girls around the room trying desperately to keep a wet edge for both of them, rescue their drips and do their edging (me edging?).  I totally let go, found my zen and just enjoyed their happiness at being allowed to paint their own room.   We blared music, we danced, we laughed and I tried to just breathe when every other minute I would hear, "Uh...Momma?  I need help over here."

I sent Sandi a text that said: "You might want to lower your expectations before you return home."

When we hit the room as a family after Sandi's return and fueled by lunch I thought poor Sandi was going to have a heart attack.  We had moved on to trim and the kids were accidentally painting the hardware on doors and dripping on the floor.  Now we kept hearing:  "Oopsies!" as now every other second seem to be punctuated with an accident of some sort.

Sandi said, "I think painting with the kids has cured me of my stress of painting with you."

You heard that right.  Compared to a 6 and 9-year-old,  I am a painting maverick.

As we finished up the first coat,  I was afraid of what we had allowed them to do.  Ella kept saying, "I love it.  Do you love it?" and all I could say was, "I love that YOU love it."  I kept telling myself it was their room, their experience to enjoy and resale value/appeal be damned.

And you know what?  I kind of love it now.  I certainly love their utter joy at transforming their room.  They are truly over the moon and overflowing with appreciation toward us which is no small thing.

(We are still trying to decide about the curtains.  Do they clash or pull in the various pinks?  At this stage of the game are we really worried about being too bold in this room?)
 Ella has moved her bed into this little nook and since it is kind of around the corner from Maya she feels like she is getting some of the space she increasingly needs from her sister.  Who knew a boxed in chimney could bring one girl such happiness?  Yesterday she bought herself a bean bag arm chair and a lava lamp with her lobstering money to decorate her corner.
 Maya loves it because she is closer to that Candy Land striped door that goes across the hall to our room.  Plus she gets the fish tank to herself.  It is all relative to what is important to you.
Overall, it was a huge success cramped into a very full summer.  What it cost me in sleep and good taste it made up for in the joy of our children and their pride in helping.  The only lasting drawback is that now I want to paint the whole house because all the other walls, while tastefully colored, look awful.

1 comment:

Nicholas Goldman said...

I like your writing style! Very funny and enjoyable. I actually like the color and I think you guys did a great job!

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