Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Painting Lessons

Ethan has been pestering me for days. He wanted to do something, but I was reluctant to let him. I figured he wouldn’t want to finish what he’d started once he got going. I knew there could be a lesson in it all, but I wasn’t sure if I would be willing to endure the teaching part.

One night, not long ago, I was having a day. And not the good kind. I finally reached my breaking point and decided that I needed to step out before I freaked out. I grabbed the keys and told Guy I needed to take a drive. I got in the car and cried for several blocks, and planned to really get it all out of my system for at least another mile, when something interrupted me.

A trash pile.

In Sacramento they do this crazy thing that, until I moved here, I had never seen before. Rather than drop things off at a thrift store, folks set furniture and other rather nice household items on the curb with large quantities of trash and yard waste for a garbage pick-up. The understanding is that someone will come along and take it, and they always do. At first I had been reluctant to pick up items because of my husband’s malicious teasing about my tendencies to “dumpster dive”. (OK- yes, I did once actually climb INTO a dumpster to retrieve some antique hardware from an old dresser. And unfortunately I caved to his teasing and abandoned my quest after only two handles were removed. I have since learned I could have paid the utility bill with the ones I left behind). Now I have no shame.

The car stopped automatically (it has been trained to stop at good trash piles). There was a dresser placed to the side of the pile, and it was a real score. All hard wood and plywood, no pressboard or staples. It had a real back on it, and only needed one repair on a drawer slide. Besides needing paint and new hardware, it was great. I dried my tears on my sleeve, climbed out into the night and single handedly wrestled the dresser to the roof of my mini-van. It seemed to reset my brain. My pity fest was over.

Now, several weeks later the dresser had been waiting to be fixed up. Ethan has pestered me daily, “Can I paint? I’ll do the whole thing! I’ll do a really good job!” I hesitated for days.

Finally, yesterday, I gave in to the lesson that must be learned.

He grabbed the paint can and the roller. I stopped him and handed him a wire brush. “This first.” He grumbled. I supervised him as he brushed down the dresser that was really so old that there was no finish left on it, but I needed to make sure he understood the step.

He grabbed the paint again. “Nope,” I said, “Paper first.” I had him lay paper on the floor to protect it. We went along in this way, him rushing to use the roller, me handing him the brush first to do the detail work and corners first, him rushing to use the paint right away, me stopping him to stir it first. I showed him how to load the brush with paint and not ruin it, how to roll with the grain, look for bubbles , not drag the roller, or paint over partially dry paint. I taught him about filling in cracks, watching for drips, and not doing things out of order. Finally, he was painting.

By the time he was done with the first drawer front, he wanted to quit.

I wouldn’t let him. He needed to finish what he had started. I decided to take over the small brush so that he could do the roller. He soon tired of that too. “I thought this was going to be fun, but it’s just a lot of work.” He complained. “Yup!” I agreed.

“You can be done after the first coat” I told him. He was overjoyed and finished his last side. I got busy with other things while the paint dried.

It was a rainy day. He got bored. Soon he came in and announced, “I decided to put another coat of paint on it. It’s looking pretty good, but I think it will need about 2 more coats.” He sounded so professional.

That evening, before heading off to bed he informed me, “Well, I did a few more coats. It looks really good. I think the girls will love it.” He looked so proud. I felt so proud.

It has a few problems, and there is paint on the studio floor now, but it’s not the first. He really did a great job, and he will be proud every time he sees his fine work.

I’m glad for trash piles. A new dresser would never have provided us with this kind of opportunity. I’m glad that I didn’t force him to do the second coat. It means so much more that he did it on his own.

Yes, I had given into the lesson that must be learned. A lesson for me.


julean said...

This is great, good job! It's so hard sometimes to raise men (as opposed to raising boys) but what a good lesson for you both. It sounds like a boost of confidence for you both.

rebekahmott said...

How he is growing up.Good for you for telling him to finish, because now he has something to be proud of.