Back in the fall, I went to the local hardware store looking for the right shade of yellow paint. A year ago, we painted all of our dining room chairs green. The green chairs either needed a freshening-up now, many months, scuff marks and dings later, or a complete color change to match my warm golden curtains. I settled on yellow, and after considering different possibilities, chose a buttery version of the color. When my plan for the curtains took a different direction not long after that, so did my plan for the chairs. I was left with a bright quart of yellow, with no certain purpose in mind.
What I did have was a rickety old step ladder–another yard sale find for a few dollars–that was in dire need of a paint job. I put my very willing, though unskilled, labor to work, and they eagerly slathered that old ladder with the latex. Well…that is until they got tired of painting and had to stop to wash hands or pick dry pieces off with their fingers, or something else suddenly became interesting. The job completion would have to wait for another day.
Last weekend I found myself with a long afternoon ahead of me, gorgeous weather outside, and my kids in need of something to focus their energy on. I was looking to accomplish something concrete, so that I could feel good about my day, and …there was the ladder again held together by partial coverage of the first coat of paint. The wood was so old and dry that the first layer soaked in immediately, and was transparent in some areas. In other spots, the zealous painters managed to slap 3 layers of paint on with one brush stroke, so the whole thing had kind of a patchy look.
We set to work again, and this second painting session was much like the first, though all the painters showed much improved technique–really! Together, we finished the whole thing, every step, top and bottom, and admired the finished work.
So what did we learn?
~ a new coat of paint can bring new life to old wood (and reduce splinters!)
~ it feels good to ‘work’ together and complete a job
~ painting with adult-size brushes, and ‘real’ paint is special for the under 5 crowd
~ ladders are beautiful objects brought into relief by color, and useful too!
~ the bright yellow is easy to see in a dark garage
~ this group project involved active learning and and a fun, messy experience
(we painted in our paint clothes and with a plastic sheet on the ground)
~ finding the right focus for the little peoples’ energy makes everybody happy