Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Big Orange Splot

My daughters are magical, if I do say so myself. They have reacted to the move in a variety of ways - sad to leave the old house, delighted with the Vacation House (particularly the TV in their bedroom - a treasure not to be repeated, but perfect for this strange phase of our lives.) They are both ecstatic to have their own bedrooms for the first time, even though they don’t quite know yet how very much they’re going to miss each other - I predicts many “sleepovers” in each other’s rooms.

To give a clue of their ideas and perceptions of their own rooms, I have compiled below two running monologues, mostly delivered to me from the back seat of the car over the past weeks.

Amelia: "Well, Mommy, I have decided on blue. Gram is right - it really does need to be a peaceful and relaxing color, and Gram is very good at decorating. We’ve decided on Serenity Blue. I am mostly excited about my new quilt, and having my bookshelves. I want to put a shelf above my bed where I can put all of my treasures and medals and things, and where Abby can’t steal stuff. (Insert: Abby’s “HEEEEEEYYYY!” followed by a “No offence, but you did steal my gum and eat half of the package.” Abby: “When?” Amelia: “Last year.”) Mom, I have been thinking about how to arrange my stuffed animals. I have been considering grouping them by their place in the animal kingdom, but may also alphabetize them by their first name…Wait, that won’t work, because then Hermione the lion and Hermes the dog will have to be next to each other, and that isn’t a good idea. I may have to try out a few solutions before I find the right one. I’m going to line up my books according to which ones I like best, but I understand that the Harry Potter books have to go in the Athenaeum. (The Athenaeum is the name they’ve given to my office/guestroom/girls’ computer room, named for Athena, who is the goddess of wisdom, (for the books) and arts and crafts (for the scrapbooking stuff.) What I really think I need, though, is an easy chair with a lamp above it, where I can sit and read for hours and hours. Every kid needs her own easy chair."

Yes, Amelia. Yes, of course they do.

Abby: "Pink!! I’m between Rosebud, Celebration, and Rose Glory. Which one do you think is most Aphrodite-like? Because I’m definitely sticking with the Aphrodite theme, because of love and beauty. I want to paint shells on the wall for Aphrodite, too. Can I paint shells? How do you paint shells? (To which I answered that we could get decals, which she informed me simply wouldn’t do. She wants to do it herself. “Find me a drawing of shells you like online, and I’ll make an overhead and we’ll use the projector from school to project them onto the walls, ” I suggested. She agreed.) I want one big piece of the wall, big as me, to stay white, so I can paint new things on it all the time, and then paint over it when I get tired of it. Can we do that? Can I put a frame on it? Can I have a full length mirror? I will need to paint Julie and Addie’s bunk bed pink, too, to match the one for Kit and Ivy. (These are the American Girl/ My Twinn dolls that are her life’s greatest treasure. Kit is officially Amelia’s, but Abby lets her sleep in her room.) I’m going to put their closet in my closet and… Look! A bunny! Can I have my dollhouse in my room? And I never have to put it in the attic again? And can I put my collection of glass pigs on their own shelf? All alone? Can I put them on the windowsill? Can I put paint a shelf to hang on my wall? I need a lava lamp!!”

Yes, Abby. You certainly do. A lava lamp. Go figure.

We paint their walls tomorrow night, after the signing. When we pick them up from school, we’re going to make a ceremony out of coming “home” for the first time. We are each choosing one thing that is sacred to us individually to be the first item we bring into the house. For Amelia, it’s Snowball (her special stuffed dog) and her Percy Jackson book. For Abby, it’s Cow-Cow (her…well, cow) and the giant poster collage of Aphrodite images she’s collected from the internet. For Patrick, it’s a replica of the Minuteman statue he bought at the Old North Bridge, a symbol of the new book he’s writing. For me…it’ll be the last thing I brought out of my old house, my It’s a Wonderful Life wooden sign that has hung in my living room for the past 6 years. That movie, that whole concept, is a symbol to me of so many things - my gratitude for the life I’m so blessed to live, my wonderful family, and recognition always of the lesson of each person’s life touching so many others.

Then we’re going to read a story to our house. (Which Patrick thinks is maybe taking it a bit to far, but he’ll go along with it.) It’s called The Big Orange Splot. Do you know it?

It’s about a man named Mr. Plumbean who paints his house bright and vivid colors, and fills it with images of elephants and balloons and lions and pretty girls and steam shovels. Alll of his neighbors think he’s crazy, but when he explains, “I am my house and my house is me…it looks like all my dreams,” his neighbors become inspired, and begin painting their houses to look like their dreams, too, and everyone’s homes become outward symbols of their own creativity and imagination, and an acceptance of that in each other. That is what I want for our home - for all of us to grow together in our separate creativity and individuality, and also to grow collectively as a family unit, and to create a place that is welcoming and warm and embracing for the people we love most in the world to visit.

And then we will do an initial sage smudging, roll up our sleeves, and get to work.


  1. The Big Orange Splot is the best book ever. It makes me happy that you read it with your children!