I was barely pregnant with my first son when my friend came to visit with her little girl. I watched that sweet little toddler dip her hands in the BBQ chip bag on my kitchen counter. She then shoved the chips in her mouth, licked her fingers, and then began walking down my stairwell from the kitchen to the basement.
Along the way she stopped, looked at the wall, and then she slowly and gracefully ran two tiny wet BBQ stained chip fingers along MY wall.
Two little bright red smudge lines…
“Ack!” was my immediate response, since my walls weren’t used to that sort of interaction.
“I’ll clean that spot later, because I’ll definitely remember it’s there…” was my next thought.
Fast forward 8 years and 4 of my own kids later, and let me tell you what, I get it now. The walls. If you have kids living inside of them, they are going to tell their own story whether you like it or not.
My walls. I’ve wiped them, scrubbed them, sprayed them, re-painted them, magic erasered them, old school pencil erased them… spot painted them with the craft paint set… and I’ve even hung picture frames over the spots that just refused to return to their original state.
The walls. Sometimes they’re mysterious.
“Is that blood? No… it must be strawberry jam. But it sure looks like blood.”
It wasn’t jam on the walls that day. There were bright red fingerprints leaving a trail across the living room all the way into the far bathroom.
“He punched me right in the loose tooth! It’s out now, can I get some money? Great, I only needed one more dollar to get the Ninjago Jay Spinjitsu spinner, this is perfect.. except, you heard me say that HE PUNCHED ME IN THE LOOSE TOOTH?!” He said, pointing to his younger brother.
We recently went on a field trip to the art gallery and you’ve never witnessed so many art gallery employees being so nervous about anybody touching the walls ever.
“We repaint them with every new exhibit that comes in. You must NOT touch the walls at all. The oils from your hands will leave a mess behind that is NOT a part of the art display.”
And they weren’t joking about the sincerity of their command. I followed behind that whole group of small children and I watched them as they longingly looked at those freshly painted and absolutely blank white walls. They just wanted to reach out, just a little, and prop their weary tour taking bodies against it for a moment.
This ‘hands off’ policy seemed confusing to them. For at home the walls were their friends, the ones they could lean on and bounce off of, and use for support. The walls were how they wrote their stories, just like the painted caves of old.
After we returned from our very serious art tour I suddenly really began noticing my walls.
I could tell by the height of the fingerprints and the size of the hand prints, which son had been where…
I could see remnant streaks of yesterday’s homemade pumpkin muffins that were consumed in under 13 minutes by four hungry little boys.
I could still see evidence of our previous craft explosion. There were paint splatters of varying shades, and I remembered the heartfelt prayers from this Mama thanking the Lord for the clever invention of ‘washable’ paint.
And as always, I could definitely see the, ‘I just washed my hands and I forgot to dry them on the towel so I’ll just wipe them on the wall instead,’ hand prints.
Don’t worry, I’ll keep cleaning these walls, but not so we’re the cleanest home in all the land, because that’s not in the cards for us for a few more years here. I’ll keep cleaning them because we have more stories to write at our house.
The stories only walls themselves can tell.
I hope next week they mention to you that we ate pancakes, and that we laughed loudly as we splattered a little bit of syrup here and there.
I hope they tell you that the littlest brother was hysterically laughing when he ran right into them, because the biggest brother was playing tag with him.
I hope they also tell you big brother scaled the door frames straight up to the roof just so he could say, “Look mom, I’m literally climbing the walls right now!” with a huge cheesy grin on his face.
I hope they tell you that they were shot with Nerf gun suction darts, but that they don’t even mind at all. And I hope they tell you that this is the most exciting, enthusiastic, and interactive family to ever live inside of them.
And finally, I hope they tell you that they don’t mind being messy, but in fact they like it. Because they like telling our stories, and they can’t wait to see what we’ll come up with next.
Photos by: Darren Lebeuf of Housestories Canada