Last summer, for my bride’s birthday, we bought paint. Emma’s room needed some work prior to the arrival of Lily, and Jodi has wanted the bathrooms redone for quite awhile now. Since the upstairs bathroom gets the most traffic (and since most of the changes there were to be cosmetic) we bought paint for Emma’s room and the upstairs bathroom and looked for time to undertake these projects.
Emma and I finally tackled her room this past fall. She helped a lot – but although I knew she liked to paint, I also figured most of her enthusiasm had to do with it being her room and us using paint she picked out.
Lily arrived, then Christmas and New Year’s, and the bathroom remained untouched. We got new towels to coordinate with new Bird’s Egg Blue shade Emma had helped pick for the bathroom, but the walls remained a splotchy, pale sea green. Finally Valentine’s Day rolled around, and Jodi didn’t want anything. I offered to make sure the bathroom was repainted by St. Patrick’s Day. She accepted.
Luckily, last Friday was a day off for me. I asked Emma to help me by taking down the decorations and the shower curtain. She did, then served as my “gofer,” bringing me tools, etc., as I needed them. As we got closer to actually painting, she asked if she could help with that, too.
“Of course you can,” I said. “Thanks for the offer!”
She helped prep the walls for the first coat, helped roll it on, watched me do the brush work around the edges, then went with me to Goodwill and Menards to look for a medicine cabinet. When we returned late in the afternoon, a friend asked her if she wanted to come over and play. She declined.
“I’m helping my dad,” she said.
“Wow, Rosie,” I said, “I didn’t know you liked to paint so much.”
“I do,” she said, “but I also like spending time with you.”
I melted. I know it won’t be like this forever, but still.
The next day, St. Patrick’s Day, we were the first two up. We put on our green t-shirts and listened to Flogging Molly over breakfast, then went back to work. Later Emma and I and Trevor continued our quest for a medicine cabinet – found an over-the-toilet model we had missed at Menard’s, plus an antique mirror at a shop in Elk River. We returned home just in time for Emma to enlist her mom’s guidance in another project all her own: Jodi and I were going out for the evening, and Emma had planned to make the boys a St. Patrick’s Day cake with green frosting and pistachios. She wanted to do it all herself, but want to get it in the oven before we left, just in case.
Here is the result:
Emma did everything herself, including the decorating. (She learned that it pays to let the cake cool a bit more first.) Her three brothers each ate two small pieces that night while Jodi and I were gone; Emma didn’t taste it until Sunday, since she had given up sweets for Lent. She earned two 10s, and a 9 from Trevor, who said the cake was still a little too warm when she served it. Jodi and I thought it was excellent.
Especially since Lily’s arrival, Emma has been a tremendous help, and she is becoming quite the young lady. For her birthday this month, she wants money to save for a Nook or a Kindle so she can read more without lugging books. I’ve had many opportunities to talk with her these past several days, and I also learned:
- She is not feeling crowded in her room, despite all the baby stuff – and in fact, she thinks that, despite the nine-year age gap, she will always love Lily so much she won’t ever want her own room.
- She is thinking about the University of Minnesota (because I work there) or the College of St. Benedict (where she is slated to visit for a Young Authors Young Artists program). When she mentioned a Catholic college, I mentioned Wyoming Catholic College, which sounds like my kind of place – now that’s on her list…
- She, too, knows she won’t want to hang around me forever, which is why she’s doing it now.
Gosh, I love that girl. And good help is right next door!