Anyway, upon hearing the word “paint,” everyone got excited. After dinner, Neal (whose bedroom is downstairs) started pulling his drawers out so we could move his dresser away from the wall.
I told Allie (14) and Libby (10) they could “cut in” their bathroom (which is upstairs), so they put on my old hospital scrubs and started taping off the woodwork. It’s a small bathroom, so I told the little girls this wasn’t going to be their job. Besides, they got to help me paint their room. Annie (6) got huge tears in her eyes, “But it’s my bathroom, too, Mom!” Ruthie (4) didn’t care; she was busy changing clothes for the seventeenth time today.
About the time I poured paint into bowls for the big girls to start painting, Dennis came in the bathroom with an armload of tools. “I need to finish fixing this toilet.” Yes, this is the toilet that’s given us problems before.
Rats. I’d forgotten he was working on that yesterday. The girls had been without a toilet for several days, after something had broken in the tank. Plumbing is not a Raising Five forte, and the night before had been a tense one. Dennis couldn’t get the tank to seal to the bowl, and he’d mopped up overflowing water and turned that heavy tank upside down multiple times before finally giving up in frustration. He now had a new gasket and was ready to face his nemesis.
So there we all were. Me, Dennis, Allie and Libby all in the little bathroom. My painters were anxious to get started. Allie was reaching around Dennis’s head. “Excuse me. I just need to get this part under the window.” Annie kept coming in, asking, “Why can’t I paint?”
I was giving instructions on how to cut in, carefully avoiding flinging paintbrushes, since I was the only one NOT dressed in paint clothes, when Neal called from downstairs. “Mom! I need your help!” I ran downstairs. He was trying to move his very heavy dresser by himself. I told him we would have to wait until Dad could help us.
Then Dennis called me to help him figure out the microscopic instructions for putting the tank back together. “OOPS! I got paint on the wood!” I ran downstairs for some rags. Back upstairs.
Where were we?
Now Libby was upset because Allie was painting faster than she was. “There’s not going to be anything left for me to paint!” she wailed. Just take your time. I'd rather have you go slowly and do a good job than rush and be sloppy. Allie will save you some parts to paint. Won't you, Allie?
Dennis and I worked on arranging the bolts and gaskets for a while, and I was now in the tub (the only place I could stand out of the way), squatting upside down so I could see to make sure the bolts made it into the toilet bowl holes.
Annie appeared again, standing to Dennis’s left, trying to see what we were doing as he lowered the tank onto the bowl. “Mom, see, I put paint clothes on," her eyes dancing expectantly, "I can paint now!” No, Annie this is not your job. Mommy has to watch you when you paint. You got to help me paint your room, remember? The bathroom is too small for us all to be painting, anyway.
The tank was almost onto the bowl when Ruthie came in, standing directly under Dennis’s right armpit. Now I could hear Neal calling from downstairs. Something had broken when he took it off a shelf to move it. Ruthie was insistent. “Mommy, help me with this button!” You put another shirt on?
After a several tries, we got the tank onto the bowl, and a few more tries later, got the gaskets and washers in the right order. Then adjusting the flush took another fifteen minutes. In between, I ran up and down the stairs about twelve times, helped the girls wipe up drips, helped Ruthie change back into her original clothes, told Annie not to touch the paint, and dried a lot of tears.
When it was all over, I let Annie paint a little spot. After all, it’s her bathroom, too.