Wildflowers for Jade: Red Cars

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Red Cars

I thought Jaden said something about “…a pen and cars,” as he passed through the living room excitedly on his way upstairs. Typical busy-mom style I muttered “Uh huh. That’s nice honey.” Maybe he’s going to get some of his cars to play with. I wasn’t sure what a pen had to do with it, but he’s 3.

I glanced up as he rushed back downstairs and on towards the dining room, still beaming “Ah penned a cars, Mommy!”

“You wha--- ? Ohhhh nooo. Stop, wait!”

In a red-paint-covered hand he held a baby wipe. He smiled at me from a red-paint-streaked face. With his free hand he rubbed red paint into red-paint-matted hair, then tried to wipe it on red-paint-splotched pajamas.

“Wh-what happened?” I stuttered.

“I paint the cars, Mommy!” He rushed ahead to the dining room. I put down what I was working on and followed in dread. He was already busy with the wipe, smearing around a big puddle of red paint on the red-paint-puddled table until it threatened to spill onto the floor.

“Oh my God. Stop baby, stop! Mommy will clean that up.” He held up the wipe now red-paint-dripping.

“Look, Mommy! Look!” He said proudly, pointing to two car candles (leftover from last year’s birthday party), now covered thickly in red paint. They were almost indiscernible red bumps on the now red table.

“Oh. My. Goodness. And you painted the kitchen timer too.”

“I painted it, I painted the timer red!”

It was late, I was tired, and that was one big red mess to clean up. To make things worse, he had not used his own special child washable paints. Oh no. He had found Mommy’s paint. The kind that stains.

Yet as I looked at his beaming red face, all I could feel was pride. My little artistic boy! Baby Da Vinci. A year ago I couldn’t get him to touch paint, and now he’s literally throwing his whole self into it. Maybe it doesn’t bode well for my record as a disciplinarian, but I wasn’t about to scold him for something he was so darn happy about. (And for the record he had asked me to paint about 20 minutes prior and I told him no, it was too late, we’d paint tomorrow.) And maybe I’m wrong for it – in which case, um, I don’t care – but I also didn’t want to mar what could be a defining moment for him and turn it into a negative.

After I had dunked and scrubbed him vigorously and spent 15 minutes scrubbing and combing dried red paint flecks out of his hair with a comb, I did bring it up and told him it was wrong because Mommy had said "not tonight." But I’m not sure that either one of us cared at that moment. He had painted the cars red. He was happy.

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