Creating Win/Win Situation with Teenage Boys? Yes You Can!
I’m not sure where my sons learned how to paint, but they did. We’re not talking visual arts here, but walls. They learned the arty stuff at schools; in Monart, the Art Student’s League, summer programs at the Denver Art Museum and in the Denver Public Schools we choiced into, schools with an Arts in Education focus, and they’re quite good actually; some of that’s genetic. But where did they pick up these “man skills”? My brother was a painter, both of canvas and of houses. I remember his sitting down with August, a charcoal pencil and a pad of newsprint going over shadow and perspective, but I don’t remember them covering the finer points of masking and cutting.
When the idea surfaced to move August down to the basement bedroom I balked, as this mean the surrender of my chick cave. Compounding this was the fact that Gabe set claim to the larger of the bedrooms, creating a three-point turn and squeezing me into his old room. I rose to the occasion under the condition that I could recreate the space. That’s b.s. for redecorate.
Now, I am a ‘Creative’ and my surroundings mean a lot to me. They must present a balanced sense of stimulation and serenity with enough electrical outlets to handle the various floor and table lamps, computer, fax, printers, iPod docking station: machines germane to my existence and my need for flattering light. As a professional theater artist/real estate agent, color is key. So I made a deal with my basement-dwelling teen that I’d pay him to paint my office, after which we’d complete the rest of the move. I plopped a gallon of Benjamin Moore, the necessary accoutrement and a cappuccino on the floor and left for a listing appointment. I was shocked when the photo of a freshly painted wall landed in my Blackberry an hour later and returned home in the evening to a shiny new room. I was shocked.
This morning as I put my things in order, scraping the odd drip of latex off the hardwood floor, I wondered where he learned this, when it hit me. He learned it in the theater! I spent a few summers directing in a small town in the Wet Mountains when the boys were young, where they learned to fish and to spit and…were forced into service painting flats. Come to think of it, they were quite handy with the blue tape and rollers last month at the Concert for the Kids Community Day…
Hanging pictures and white boards, I was flush with the proud surge of single-motherhood and the feeling that maybe this was all working out after all. I slipped him the crisp twenty dollar bills I’d promised, he slipped them into his pocket and within 24 hours, slipped out to buy the latest video game. Hmmm… maybe I should have thought through that basement bedroom thing.