… to redecorate?
Is it like having kids?
There’s never a right time, you just have to go with the flow and wait for it to happen.
That way madness, and grey glutinous walls, lie.
What I mean is, at what age will my children become human enough to make it worth spending good money on paint which won’t instantly be defaced by sticky fingers sliding up stairways, and won’t be chipped off by small plastic toys flying off into the oblivion that seems to be an essential part of every game they play.
When we moved into this house the children were aged 1 and 3, and the place was immaculate.
White walls, cream carpets, stainless steel multi-bulb light fittings, and white tiles on the bathroom floor.
Now there are fingerprints and scarification from plastic toys everywhere below waist level, we have to replace a blown bulb every week or so, and the carpets are more grunge grey than silky-cream.
Of course it was easier to keep the place tidy, clean and untouched when we were both working and the children were at nursery three days a week.
But once I left my job to stay at home and “work”, little things like friends coming round to play started to seep into our well-ordered routine. And while two children can make a mess, three or four can create a maelstrom.
A year ago we redecorated Ben’s room. We didn’t mean to, but we bought him a high sleeper bed with a desk underneath for his birthday, and when we removed the old cabin bed we found he’d used the wall beneath it as a test site for a future career in graffiti art.
We removed all the stickers and scribbles, then when we painted that section of wall we had to paint the whole wall, which made the other three walls look faded, so we ended up spending an entire weekend repainting his room, relocating the things he keeps in it, and erecting the new (to us) bed.
Now, just one year later, we may as well not have bothered.
When we moved in I re-painted the walls below the dado rail a more bearable shade of yellow. Now they’re streaked with what could be marmite, jam and finger smears; but which could just as easily be mud, blood and something left over from a prison dirty protest.
I keep thinking they’ll soon be old enough to risk redecorating, but then I watch them scraping their way up the stairs, resting their feet on the walls and lobbing stuff about in an airport baggage-handler kind of a way.
I asked my next door neighbour, whose four daughters range in age from 15 to 23, when he thought I should go for it. And he said,
“Oh, when they’re about twenty.”