second hand furniture always has a place in my home. I consider it a halfway house for other people’s old shit. this summer, we inherited some very nice dressers for ruth’s room from a good friend of the family. they are pretty quality, only wanting a fresh coat of paint. that’s why on my to-do list for the winter, I had “paint ruth’s dressers” down as number three. her room is mostly green, but on one wall, where there used to be wood paneling, I painted stripes in cream, green and black and I thought a nice coat of cream would do well and then they would match the rest of the room.
well, of course when ruth heard the news that her dressers were to be painted, she insisted on picking out the colors. we were at home depot the other day, and I ventured with her and joel into the paint section, wondering if I was perhaps the world’s biggest fool for trusting my four year old daughter to a large task like this.
“what color do you think we should paint them, ruth? remember, the rest of your room is green. so maybe something that would go with that. I was actually thinking cream…” “pink and purple!” she said, super excited. of course. damn you, mother-in-law, mainstream America and all the rest for hammering these “girly” colors into her tiny impressionable head. “ok…” I said, picking out the swatches of the different shades of each, “which color do you think would go well with your green?” I don’t even think she heard me, she just picked out the pinkest pink you can think of and the purplest purple. “which one do you want?” I asked. “both!” she said. “ok, well, do you want the majority of your dressers to be the pink or the purple?” she started getting frustrated, not understanding what I was talking about. I tried to explain (meanwhile, joel was getting in everyone’s way who was passing by and reorganizing all of the swatches in random order), that whichever one she wanted as the predominant color, I would buy a big container of but only a small container of the one she wanted to do “accents” with.
after a few breakdowns, where she was suddenly enamored of the white that they already were and didn’t want to paint them, started screaming and losing it to the point that I had to lead her down one of the aisles and distract her, I was finally able to hand the swatches she had picked out to the paint lady for mixing, one gallon of throw up pink and one quart of monster purple.
picking out the paint, though, was only half the battle. then we actually had to apply it to the dressers. yesterday, greg had martin luther king jr. day off and so, he could watch the brother while sister and I confronted her god forsaken mess of a room to tackle the dressers. I toyed with the idea of cleaning and organizing her room first but after a couple minutes of that, I got frustrated and just started piling shit up against the wall, moving it out of the way to make a space for painting. we dumped all her clothes out, took the hardware off the drawers and pulled them all out, placing them on newspaper, then stuffed newspaper under the dressers themselves. good enough, right? I knew there was still bound to be pink paint all over, but what the hell? it scrapes off, right?
painting a dresser and its drawers is a relatively easy and simple task, for those of us who have good hand eye coordination and who have had many previous experiences painting walls and furniture and the like. we know you dip just the tip of the brush into the paint, then twirl it around over the can, waiting for all of the drips to cease, then, we know how to evenly spread it, without dripping or globbing, onto the surface of something. ruth, however, is four (and a half, thank you very much) and has only ever painted on paper with Crayola paints for kids, where there are no rules and you can pretty much make as big a mess as you want and mom will just wipe it up after.
well, she did pretty good, considering all of this. I don’t think I need to mention the sheer mess underfoot from all of her dripping everywhere and the fact that I had to go over and smooth out every single thing she painted or it would have been a very textured paint job indeed.
but, she didn’t have a single breakdown (actually, that ended up being my department a few times on this occasion) and even changed into paint clothes (pajamas) without much fuss (she usually has serious problems transitioning from one outfit to another and usually ends up ripping off her clothes a couple times in anger before she finally is able to settle into the new textures and feel). and she stuck it out, through both coats. that takes focus and dedication. and, though I am having bouts of vertigo looking into her room to check on the drying progress from all of the PINK clashing with all of the green, she is extremely happy with her new dresser color and the way it looks. so, it’s her room. I guess I should consider this preparation for when she’s fourteen and wants it black with scary looking band member pictures on the wall. letting go. stepping back. giving space. breathing.