Marks of time

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The last time I did this hopping on and off a ladder endless times seemed fairly effortless. I had an infant and a toddler and I painted around their needs.

I think it was brushstroke, change the baby, brushstroke, hand out goldfish crackers, brushstroke, fish goldfish crackers out of the paint, lather, rinse and repeat. It was 15 years ago, the height of the faux finish craze.

Paint

I can vividly remember dipping crumpled plastic bags in gold glaze and dabbing it on the walls or some other nonsense Martha Stewart cooked up. Despite my best efforts to muck it up, it ended up looking fairly attractive.

The years were hard on the finish. Granted it wasn’t so much the years. It was us. We love this house, and we live and love in it. We pushed chairs into the plaster, we pounded nails into the wall (that was mostly me). We accidentally shot a paintball gun and sprayed the corner with blue paint (that was not me). At one point, I tried out some paint samples in messy strokes. For over a year (closer to two) one corner of the room was striped. It was a look. Martha Stewart would not approve. It worked for us though.

The local hardware store had a paint sale a few months ago. I bought antique white. That’s like regular white, but older I guess. I helped age it some more, like fine wine, by keeping the paint in a closet for a few months. No need to rush into anything.

This past weekend I found myself home alone with a lot of rain, a can of paint, and 48 hours on my hands. Before the weekend was over I would have a lot of white paint on my hands too.

Help

In a rare turn of events, BoyWonder was home all day the first day with me. With no begging required, he hopped up on a ladder and proceeded to tape off the whole room. This is a considerable amount of taping in a room with no less than six trimmed openings, base and crown molding and six angled walls. There was a time when I could assign these kinds of things as chores. He would have helped me, perhaps a tad grudgingly.

Now he did so willingly. More impressive, he didn’t stop when I told him he could. I tend to cut corners, which is why my paint jobs always look like they were done by monkeys or toddlers hopped up on pixie sticks. It’s a small thing, but the first time your child outperforms your expectations and stays home to help you on a project that is not remotely interesting to him, it feels like a milestone.

I need to dig out his baby book and see if they left a spot for that.

Pain

I still did my fair share of painting, on and off the ladder all day long. I’m less limber than I was 15 years ago, so by the end of the painting, I was in pain. It’s sad to admit that a midsize stepladder and a too small paint brush put me down for a day. I blame it on not having all those baby care, goldfish cracker and juice box breaks.

The thing that hit me as I watched my son, no longer enamored of goldfish crackers, hop up and down the ladder, is how time flows.

I wrote once about a former occupant of our home — Ben. I actually know who Ben is. He was a boy of about 10 when we bought this house from his mother. I believe he was 4 when he moved here. In the six short years they resided here Ben carved his name, with an increasingly adept hand, in a variety of secretive spots around the house. Never a defacement, every carving is discreet. One on the top of an upper windowsill. Another along on the backside of a porch column. Rather than find it annoying, I choose to find it charming.

In our case, I don’t think my children have carved their names into anything (yet). Of course I’m not sure Ben’s mom knew until I ratted him out either. We have added our names to a few cement projects, of course. I think that’s required when you pour cement with children around.

My son has leapt down the stairs, swung around the newel post and onto the landing more times than I could count. Our daughter said from age 4-14 that she would buy the house from her father and I someday. She now says she’s moving to Florida and that seems a long way to move a house.

Things change. Plans. People. Paint. We have left our marks in other ways.

The blue paint from the paintball gun will be gone eventually. Although it did stick very well in the detail of the crown molding so here’s to hoping it, like our memories, stays.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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