We have finally bought a house and decided to stay there – yeah! This involved carting all our belongings across town yet again with the help of some amazing mates who were fed and watered for less than the cost of hiring a removal company, and who also offered childminding and decorating services before, during and afterwards which conventional removal companies don’t. Thank you (you know who you are)!
In the first few days after the move Madi desperately wanted to assist with the painting operation and asked on several occasions to help. Keen to exploit encourage this interest and reduce the amount of time spent in front of the TV develop life skills for the future, I employed the technique that was used on me as a child when I asked to decorate: I gave her a cupboard. With a laminate floor.
I supplied the paint (Cloud Whisper), a 2″ brush, a dust sheet for the floor inside the cupboard, another different coloured dust sheet for the carpet immediately outside the cupboard (the decontamination area), and got her to put on her scruffy clothes.
We went over the instructions again:
• Dip brush up to HERE
• Transfer to wall
• Don’t worry about the edges (I’ll fill those in)
• Reach up as HIGH as you can (I’ll do the super high bits)
• When you get fed up and want to leave, put your brush HERE
• Stand at edge of dust sheet
• Remove scruffy clothes and socks
• Progress to decontamination area and wipe hands on THIS cloth
• Check soles of feet for traces of Cloud Whisper, and if negative:
• You may go
Operation Paint Child could begin.
Madi loved it. I loved it too. Painting is fun and painting with someone else, even a seven-year-old child with no previous experience, is even better. As we progressed around the cupboard, I painted the high bits she had no way of reaching. I mopped up splodges of Cloud Whisper which had begun running down the wall in little rivulets. In other places the yellow wall beneath was still showing through, so I filled in the gaps with my bigger brush.
When she finally decided to stop, the cupboard was pretty much finished. I assisted with the decontamination (as above) and off she skipped to get dressed and watch telly with her brothers.
I surveyed the completed project and painted over the last few imperfections that were left. Then I cleaned up and decontaminated myself (which involved only naked feet, not my whole person).
I could have painted the cupboard without Madi’s help. It would have taken roughly the same effort to paint alone than it did to paint with her, then smooth over the flaws afterwards. The effort I either saved or spent isn’t the issue.
It was the process itself that was significant. We spoke about all sorts of stuff while we worked together. And Madi definitely benefitted from contributing to a project that was bigger than herself.
I think there’s a massive correlation between spiritual stuff and the scenario described above. The more I think about it the more I feel like a kid with a paintbrush, clumsily but happily slopping paint on the wall and enjoying being with a parent who could do whatever needs to be done without help but chooses to involve me anyway.
My prayers are not perfect. I concentrate far too much on some issues and the paint starts to run. Then I skim over other more important things that need more input and the colour beneath isn’t obliterated yet but I’ve already moved on to another bit of wall.
But it doesn’t matter. I’m sharing the same paint pot with someone who loves me and who can reach the high bits.