When I was attempting to tuck Sam into bed this evening and reading him a bedtime story while he resolutely refused to sit still and listen, preferring to purr, arch and rub up against me like a little green stripy kitty cat, I lifted his duvet and found a surprise. I discovered a landscape of little crusty green tempera handprints somewhat reminiscent of ancient cave art adorning the fitted sheet and base of his bed.

Now, I know exactly when this little burst of interior design creativity must have happened, what I don’t recall is how a small child, possibly two, managed to escape my watchful eye and create this isolated little burst of graffiti. It is astonishing that apparently nowhere else along the route from front room to bedroom got daubed, that I know of.

In preparation for our friend Heath’s fourth birthday party I set the kids a little artwork project on Friday afternoon. We needed to wrap up some presents and I had been unimpressed by the giftwrap selection at the store. Seeing a craft opportunity I had decided to buy a roll of plain brown paper and request that Sam and Bea go crazy decorating it for their playmate. Sam’s train table was pulled out from his bedroom to provide ample work space at a much more convenient height than the dining table, and I let the kids go to town.

Intending to make a shepherd’s pie I had bought some potatoes ready to be boiled and mashed for topping. Tea was forgotten when instead I showed Sam and Bea how to slice them in half and dip them in paint. It wasn’t long before the paper was slathered in dripping colour and glitter, and with no free space left to fill it lost its appeal. With Bea instigating the new direction, the kids moved on. Not having any paper wasn’t going to stop her from expressing herself.

I hovered with wipes and cloths at the ready, constantly playing damage limitation while wanting the kids to be explorative and creative. It was pretty clear that there was no hope for avoiding bathtime anyway, I just had to guard pretty much everything surrounding the children and hope for the best while they grinned and giggled and covered themselves in paint.

I thought I had managed the mayhem fairly well. Aside from a few green fingers and wet scrapes against the bathroom door as I wrestled the children away from blissful mess towards being clean once more, the house escaped unscathed. Or so I had thought. Sam’s bed tells a different story.

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