It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Making Lemonade

Zach loves his little airplanes. He brings one or two every day, from a collection that must number in the dozens. They are not big and fancy. Most are simple plastic types, many have the look of dollar store items. All have little plastic wheels, many of which do not actually roll.

This is a problem, given that Zach loves, loves, loves to race his little airplanes along the long wall of my dining room. The dining room which is painted some sort of creamy country yellow. No idea of the shade: it’s what was there when we moved in and I liked it enough to let it stay. From the living room to the kitchen, from the kitchen to the living room, Zach zips and zooms those airplanes. Back and forth, forth and back. Bambambambambambambambam go the little feet. (Pitter-patter, my aunt fanny.)

Creamy country yellow and tiny, immobile wheels do not get on well. Last week I took a critical look at that wall and realized it had a dingy grey swath along its length, about 50 cm wide, and a metre or so up off the floor. I tried to take a picture for you, but the flash had the flattering effect of making the dingy wall look clean and bright. Flattering, yet inaccurate. So, no “before” pictures.

“Before”, because there will be an “after” picture. Not because I am going to repaint the wall creamy country yellow, even though the last owners kindly left cans in the basement. Nothing so mundane happens around here! Besides, the threat continues. Zach still brings his little planes, and still loves to pound up and down that wall. I could forbid airplane-driving on the walls. It would even seem reasonable, I’m sure, and yet… This is a small house. It is a long, cold winter. They spend a lot more time indoors than they will in a couple more months. It might be reasonable, but it seems cruel to make him cease such a satisfactory activity.

But what of the wall? Well, if your wall is being used as a road, why not make a road on the wall?

And if you’re going to make a road, why not, oh, a river, and maybe some mountains, and maybe a mountain forest?

Especially if you have cans and cans left over from painting a certain door last August.

Emma puts the finishing touches on the mountaintops.
Stage one, complete. River at the bottom, the brown bit is both beach and road, a forest and majestic, snow-capped mountains.

Tomorrow the tots will get a chance to cobble the road: sponges dipped in grey paint and applied to the top two-thirds of the brown band will produce cobblestones. The rest of the brown is beach. The next day, the road complete, we will blur the too-distinct line between blue river and brown beach with some sponged shrubbery and potato printed cat-tails.

And we will, of course, paint an airplane in the sky.

February 28, 2006 - Posted by | crafts, daycare, Zach


  1. You are the best HDL ever. I’d say the kids are going to love that lemonade.

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  2. Okay, how far is Ottawa from Salt Lake City again? Because this is precisely the reason I want YOU to be my child’s miracle worker–er, care provider.

    Comment by stefanierj | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  3. Mary, you ROCK! I now want to move to Ottawa just so Zen Baby can have the experience of being in your care. (And I’m pretty much an Accidental SAHM these days, so that’s saying something.)

    Comment by MsSisyphus | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  4. That’s great and you’ve figured out something for the cherubs to do.

    Comment by Granny | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  5. You’ll have to let us know how the kids do with the road. I bet they have a blast, working on such a grown-up project! What a creative solution to the problem of scuffed up walls.

    Comment by Angela | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  6. Okay, you. I love you for this! I really, really do!

    Comment by Candace | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  7. This is awesome! I love it, and you guys are great artists, too!

    Comment by Kristen | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  8. Crayonz: It stopped the kids dead in their tracks. Funny – not all the parents noticed, but the kids saw it straight away!

    Stefanierj: A miracle worker could get little Zach to stop scratching the wall and be happy to do it. Me, I’m just a pragmatic optimist, like I say in the sidebar. A quasi-crafty paint-speckled one.

    MsSisyphus: It sure would be nice to have another girl or two around here! I seem to attract the boys: I just signed on ANOTHER one for August… What’s an “accidental” SAHM?

    Granny: I have to confess to feeling a little proprietary about this project: their contributions to this are being far more supervised and managed than they are accustomed to from me!

    Angela: The kids love it so far. This is the optimist in me: I can’t have a pristine house, so what are my options? How to make a problem an opportunity?? I sound like those sappy motivational posters now, but hey – it worked this time!

    Candace: I thought you’d like it. You were so impressed by the door last summer. This is even wilder – right there in the dining room.

    Kristen: Great artists? Thanks! We had a lot of fun, and if anyone doesn’t mind an semi-primitive mural on their wall, Emma and I are ready to roll!

    Comment by Mary P. | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  9. It turned out great!!!

    Comment by jen-o-rama | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  10. Forget about the babysitter part — will you be my MOTHER???? The house I was raised in was new when we moved in, and we were in DEEP trouble if we did anything to its pristine walls. I fantasized about painting all kinds of things, but never got a chance — no, wait, a neighbor once paid me $10 to paint flowers on her trash can when I was about 12 or so.

    (And I was joking about the mother part — I am too old for you to be my mother. Plus, my real mother might get jealous and be mean to you. Sorry.)

    Comment by L. | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  11. It’s so liberating when there’s no boundaries or impressions of being in a square box. heh heh

    We are masters of a space. But very often, we end up being enslaved by the space.

    Comment by Queen Bee | February 28, 2006 | Reply

  12. Ah Ottawa — the epicentre of so many great cover-ups and whitewashes.

    This tops them all.

    Comment by mo-wo | March 1, 2006 | Reply

  13. Jen: Thanks! We’re kind of pleased with ourselves!

    L: I think if you’re the type of person who will run a daycare, you also have to be the type of person who isn’t too perfectionist about the house! I’d be having a nervous breakdown otherwise…

    I bet those were lovely trash cans when you were done with them!

    QueenBee: I love paint. The effects can be so dramatic, and when you’re tired of it, another coat or two give you a fresh start. You’re right about being masters of your own space. It’s freeing.

    Mo-Wo: Thanks. I think. 🙂

    Comment by Mary P. | March 1, 2006 | Reply

  14. Mary, you are awesome!!! We’ve had a few scratches around here and the hubbie promptly gets the paint can out, touches up and reminds the children that they can’t destroy the house.
    I wish we were artistic enough to THINK of this!! Those kids — the ones that live with you during the workdays and the ones that live with you longer–are very lucky, indeed!!!

    Comment by LoryKC | March 2, 2006 | Reply

  15. Oh Mary, you ARE the best!

    Comment by Andie D. | March 2, 2006 | Reply

  16. […] they are not allowed to run. Why yes to the bike and no to the running? Remember that “pitter-patter of little feet” thing? Running is MUCH, MUCH louder. So, not entirely fair, my comment, but still. The irony […]

    Pingback by When all else fails, confuse them « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | November 18, 2008 | Reply

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