THREE+ME: Give the kids a paintbrush

Finding our way home: Part Three

Em LeighHerald News Staff

Step 1: Bring stepkids to home improvement store.

Step 2: Let them pick paint colors.

Step 3: Apply sunglasses. It’s gonna be bright.

Yes, it was time for paint, because The Search For Our House had ended. The Renovation Of Our Home had begun.

After several apartment-level moves over the past few years, this summer we searched for a legit house, somewhere we can settle down and the kids can grow up (that was in Parts One and Two of this “Finding our way home” segment a while back).

When, during one open house, the kids started picturing hide-and-seek spots and testing the play-ability of the yard, we knew we’d found what we were looking for.

Fast-forward a few months, and the house was ours.

Right away, the kids wanted to change their rooms’ colors.

“Can we paint our rooms today?” my 6-year-old stepdaughter had asked the first weekend we had the house.

“Not today,” I’d told her. “Why, what color do you want?”

“Pink!” she’d replied enthusiastically. Then paused. “No, red! A really dark red!” Paused again. “No, blue! With clouds!”

I’d smiled. That was why we weren’t painting yet.

But the day had finally come to decide on colors. Exploring the paint department, with a little guidance, the kids settled on their selection: A bright raspberry pink for her, and a bold yellow-orange for my stepson. And sunglasses for their dad and me.

Really, if we’re honest, they didn’t need to paint their walls. Of the entire house, their rooms were in acceptable condition. (By comparison, for example, the whole first floor — and I mean the WHOLE first floor — was a 1980s time capsule of floor-to-ceiling stripes, flowers and quaint country-patterned wallpaper.)

There was nothing visually assaulting about the quiet, albiet boring, gray on the kids’ walls, and we could have left well enough alone.

But my husband and I had decided early on that this wasn’t just going to be a new house. This was going to be our home, all of us, together. We don’t have full-time custody of the kids, but that doesn’t make this home any less theirs. When they’re with us, we want them to feel like they matter.

Letting them paint their rooms was a part of that.

However, we also wanted them to get their hands dirty, not just to sit back and let Dad and Em do the work for them.

Letting them paint their rooms was a part of that, too.

But I wasn’t sure how it would go over. They’d never painted before, and despite their initial enthusiasm, I didn’t know how long they would last. They’re 10 and 6 years old; attention spans are measured in milliseconds, not hours.

But my husband and I stuck to our guns. We’d pre-taped the baseboards, gotten the rollers and trays ready. Now it was up to the kids (with a little help, of course).

And I was impressed by how excited they were — not just about the idea of painting, but about the process, too. They used brushes to cover the edges, and reveled in how fun the rollers were. Sure, they got tired at points. And we took breaks — including an extended game of hide-and-seek to try out those hiding spots they’d planned out during the open house.

But we got right back to it, and they didn’t complain. Not once.

And the coolest part about it was how proud they were.

By the time we were done, their smiles were as bright as their new colors. And their dad and I were as proud of them as they were of themselves.

It was a step toward making their spaces theirs. That’s what we wanted.

And they’d done it themselves. That’s also what we wanted.

Not a bad start to what I hope will become many, many happy memories in our new house.

Now about that wallpaper on the first floor...

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