Sunday, September 22, 2013

49. Dad's Magic Paint Brush

Peter was two years old, cute as a baby panda, and his vocabulary was growing as fast as he was. His mom, Heather, said, “I think he learns one hundred words every time he grows an inch.” Of course, much to her chagrin one of the first words he learned was ‘tini, referring to the martini his dad relished after a long commuter train ride and a frustrating day solving computer problems. It was also embarrassing the way Peter said it with the same loving tone Dan used when mixing it each evening. Heather was afraid her friends might think she was raising an alcoholic baby. The little boy still staggered when he walked giving further support to a “drunken baby” allegation.
Neither Heather, Dan or the baby were alcoholics, of course. They were a typical, suburban family who had moved into a new house. New to them, but really about 50 years old and in need of repairs. They couldn’t afford everything they wanted to do to the house, but paint was a cheap and quick fix. 
While they were figuring out what colors the various rooms should be painted, Peter was engrossed in figuring how to communicate all the many thoughts that whizzed through his consciousness. When they first moved in, they only had 2 kitchen chairs. One Saturday morning, Dan and Heather were sitting in them, drinking coffee. Little Peter toddled in from his play area in the dining room. He looked around and asked, “Where’s my sit down?” 
Heather and Dan smothered their laughs when they realized what he meant. Dan said, “I always knew my son would be a genius. He’ll never have a problem asking for what he needs.” Heather brought in his little rocking chair from the dining room so Peter could ‘sit down’ next to them.
It was mid-January, very cold, although it hadn’t snowed yet. Dan was eager to get all the inside painting done, so he could start on the garden when the weather warmed up. He and Heather decided they should perk up Peter’s little room first. It was going to be a typical boy’s design of red, white and blue color scheme. Heather knew her dad, a former Marine would appreciate their effort.
She made red and white striped curtains with a trim of little blue cotton balls. Dan covered the beat up, built in wooden bookcases with a coat of Williamsburg blue to go with an old blue trunk they found in a thrift store.
Peter didn’t say much as he watched all this activity. His eyes followed every brush stroke as Dan used a paintbrush to cover Peter's gloomy green walls with a bright, clean white. The little guy tried to imitate his Dad, sticking his hand in the can of white paint, which caused a work stoppage for a major clean up. And then, when Dan turned his back again, Peter tried to use his little hairbrush to paint “like Daddy.” Dan couldn't let him do these messy things, but secretly he was proud that his son wanted to be just like him.
Although the winter had been snow free so far, the weatherman predicted a heavy snow fall for the day after Dan painted Peter's room. And for once it was an accurate prediction. When Heather saw her transformed yard and neighborhood, her eyes danced with anticipation. She knew Peter was going to love playing in the fluffy, cold stuff. Last year he had been too young to appreciate it.
As she looked out the hall windows, she heard Peter's happy morning sounds. She walked in to his room with a big smile. “I have a surprise for you today.”
'Prize?” Peter asked. He raised his chubby arms for her to lift him out of the crib. Heather first bent to give him a good morning kiss and hug. He squirmed away and asked again, “Prize?” She nuggled his neck as she carried him over to the window. They looked out at a white world. Snow covered the front yard, the driveway, the street and all the trees.
Honey, look. It's a surprise. Everything's all white.”
Peter opened his eyes wide as he peered through the frost framed window. He looked at the world that he'd last seen as brown and green and orange. He laughed and clapped his hands. “Daddy painted it all white.”
                                                   The End

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