messy painting

Photo by Lisa Jay

I want to tell you about last Saturday morning.

We’ve had a massive week, Daddy’s at work and I’m in desperate need of a break, so I decide we’ll stay at home and have a quiet day.

Needless to say, Birdy’s getting bored.  She asks me to do painting.  After putting this off for most of the morning, I eventually get the painting things set up and we sit down on the floor to do painting.

At that point, I discover a puddle on the floor.  Yes, it’s one of those puddles.  It must have happened while I was in the shower.  But it’s landed on a pile of pencils that Birdy has unpacked.  So I leave her to the painting while I clean up the puddle and all the pencils that are lying in it.

Now leaving a two-year-old semi-unsupervised with a pile of paint can’t be anyone’s idea of a good idea.  But what choice do I have?  I can’t leave wee all over the floor, and I can’t cut short the painting when we’ve only just begun.  It doesn’t take Birdy long to realize that she has free reign with a pile of paint.  ‘I’m just going to do some handprints,’ she says, putting both hands deep into the paint.   ‘OK,’ I reply, ‘but just your hands.’  Sure enough, next thing you know she’s taking off her shoes.  ‘Birdy, not your feet, just your hands,’ I’m calling out, halfway through cleaning the accident, and not in a position to intervene.  ‘Birdy, stay on the newspaper.  Birdy, don’t move off the newspaper.’  She’s walking her paint covered feet all through the kitchen.  I’m physically trying to put her back onto the newspaper.  She’s kicking and screaming.  She’s confused.  I’m exhausted.  This painting thing is so not turning out to be fun.

‘Right, that’s it, Birdy, you’re going in the bath.’  I throw her in with a washer.  ‘Now I want you to clean yourself up.’  ‘No, I won’t.’  ‘Birdy, clean yourself up.’  ‘No.’

Tears.  Crying.  A major tantrum brewing.

I wash her and quickly get her out of the bath.  The house is a mess.  There’s newspaper and paint everywhere and the wee is still only half dealt with.   Birdy’s crying.  I’m totally over it.  This supposedly restful day has turned out to be anything but.  The lectures start… how painting was ruined because she didn’t listen to Mummy etc etc.

Then at the end of our little talk, when I’m feeling like a complete failure and she’s wondering why she’s in so much trouble, she runs at me for a cuddle, calling at the top of her voice.

“I want more love.”

Distress pours out from her as she reaches up for me.

“I want more love.”

I sweep her into my arms and hold her close.

I know how you feel, Birdy.  I know how you feel.

Yes, it’s sometimes draining spending all day, every day with a two-year-old.  But maybe being one ain’t that easy either.