There is a certain amount of amnesia involved in parenting. The obvious example is childbirth, though I only forgot about the first time round because I was totally unconscious during it. It was for this reason perhaps that I found myself agreeing to paint daughter three and only son’s bedroom on Monday. A year or so had passed since I painted daughter two’s room white after having painted it shocking pink only a year or so before that. On that occasion, everyone had got involved. Only son was three. Rollers were involved. Estimated painting time: two hours [of which 30 minutes with all four kids]. Estimated cleaning time: four hours [solo].
This time round I had made provisions. My partner took only son to Asda. “Can you keep a piece of wall for me to paint?” he asked. “I am very good at drawing and painting.” He has spent the entire weekend colouring. Daughter one is in pre-GCSE depression and unable to do anything except watch Chris Evans [not the DJ] and look pained. That left the core team: daughters two and three and me. Earlier daughter two had had a slight altercation with the big pot of white paint we bought on special offer. The lid had unfortunately come off while she was moving it and it had gone all over daughter three’s clothes. Only son had witnessed the whole thing and came downstairs to whisper in my ear: “Daughter two told me not to say anything, but I think you should know that there is paint all over daughter three’s clothes. Don’t tell Dad.” I went upstairs to find a worried-looking daughter two with her hands covered in white paint trying to clean up. Due to it being Easter bank holiday weekend, I greeted this sight in a Zen-like state and merely transported the affected clothing to the washing machine and cleaned the floor with a towel and water.
We started painting after covering selected furniture with sheets and getting into our pjs. Daughter three put on a Little Mix CD. Worryingly, daughters two and three opted for the rollers. Daughter two is very into tidying and home decor at the moment, but is known for temporary moments of madness. She is unable, for instance, to pass by sea water – even in mid winter – without rushing into it, normally fully clothed. I knew time was of the essence. She started well, but by around 30 minutes in, I turned around and saw that at least one arm and half her hair was covered in paint. She had dropped a spot on a mat and was busy spreading it across the whole mat to make a feature of it. She had a wild smile on her face. “Into the bath NOW,” I said. “Your painting time is officially up.”
Daughter three and I soldiered on and covered most of the walls in true professional style. “Oops,” said daughter three as I was painting round the radiator. She had stepped into the roller tray. “Freeze,” I commanded. “How good are you at hopping?” We hopped to the bathroom, having first checked for drips. Daughter two was out of the bath. Daughter three got into the bath.
Only son came home and ran upstairs to assess progress. “You’ve painted over my bit!” he exclaimed. I told him I had reserved an important section for him to finish and handed him a paint brush. He was doing a great job until he asked if he could use the roller. “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said as daughter one poked her head round the door. She is happy to join in any task that only son is involved in. “He’s soooo sweet,” she said, taking up a roller. Fortunately, only son lost interest after about five minutes and daughter one took him downstairs so he could watch Avengers Assemble and she could focus on Captain America. That left me to finish the job and tidy up. There was paint all over the floor and on at least six or seven teddy bears. Several hours later, I emerged. My partner came to inspect. “Looks good,” he said. “When are you doing the second coat?”
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk. Picture credit: Wikipedia.