Wednesday, November 22, 2017
They started painting Tehya’s room on Saturday morning. The house was pretty new, they’d only moved in a few weeks before, and everything needed to be painted. Tehya’s family had gone to the paint store last Saturday morning, and while her mother fussed over what colours should go in the kitchen and the bathroom, Tehya stood in front of the colourful wall of paint chips, lost in the dream of a brand-new bedroom all to herself. There were three kids in Tehya’s family and all of them were girls. Her older sister, Jazzy, was two grades ahead of her in school, and her younger sister, Clara, was just one behind. While the three of them made decent playmates most of the time, they weren’t always great roommates. In their old house, there had been three bedrooms -- one for her parents, and then two more for the three kids -- and because Tehya’s sisters fought like a bear and a bee hive, Tehya was perpetually required to share her room with either the eldest or the youngest of her siblings. It was a rotten deal, and it lasted nearly the whole of her childhood. But when they moved into the new house a few weeks ago, everything changed. On moving day, Tehya’s dad made a surprise announcement right before they unlocked the door and went inside to explore for the very first time. “This house has enough bedrooms for each of you to have your very own. This is a major blessing, and a pretty big deal! And because Tehya has always had share a room with one of you other girls, we’ve decided that she is allowed to have first pick. We’re going to let her look first with Mom, and then the two of you can go upstairs and battle it out for the others.” Her sisters kicked up a fuss, but the adults were firm in their decision. Tehya chose the largest of the three rooms; it was in a corner, and it had odd little angles; it had a door and a window, and a closet for her clothing, and it was perfect. And now, starting on Saturday morning, it was about to become very-bright-purple. Tehya was wearing an old camp t-shirt and a pair of leggings that had seen better days. She was barefoot and grinning from ear to ear, hair tied up in a ponytail, and paintbrush in hand. Her mom looked much the same. She was kneeling on the floor, opening a large can of very-bright-purple paint. They had decided to paint all of the walls, the back of Tehya’s door, the whole ceiling, and even the ceiling fan the same very-bright-purple. The floor was a grey-ish carpet that had to stay as it was, so Tehya helped to cover it up with something called a drop cloth, which is like a giant tarp made of canvas. The drop cloth was cream-coloured when they started the painting project… but it didn’t stay like that very long. “Oops!” said her mom, when a dribble of paint leaked off her paintbrush and onto the drop cloth at her feet. “That was a bit messy of me!” “I think that splatter looks a bit like a giraffe,” said Tehya, tilting her head a bit when she looked over. She ran into the other room where they were stashing her stuff, and came back with a thick permanent marker. The marker was also purple, but not quite as bright as the paint. She was in a serious purple phase at the moment. Tehya was careful not to touch the wet drops of paint when she made her outline, but she traced it close enough to emphasize the animal shape, with its long skinny neck. “There! A giraffe to be sure,” she declared triumphantly, and then returned to her paintbrush work on the other side of the room. Her mom looked over at the splotchy doodle on the floor. “Very creative. I like it!” And as she smiled over at her daughter, another puddle of paint streamed down to the floor from her brush. “Oh, goodness,” she sighed. “What a mess I’m making.” But Tehya didn’t see a mess in the very-bright-purple splats on the drop cloth. Instead, she saw art. With her trusty marker, Tehya transformed every apparent mistake into a miniature masterpiece until the whole canvas looked like a very-bright-purple mural. After dinner that night, when the painting was mostly complete, Tehya’s sisters came into the room to look at their progress. “Wow!” said Jazzy, “The walls look good and all, but check out that floor! What a cool idea! I want to do that when we paint my room too!” Clara, who was obviously impressed, agreed. “You could hang it up on the wall,” she suggested. Tehya smiled. She’d transformed trash into treasure, and all it had taken was a splash of positivity, a splatter of creative thinking and, of course, one large can of very-bright-purple paint.