Tricounty News

"Slices of Life" When green paint becomes more than green paint

It was just green paint. Splattered. In our bathroom sink.

I didn't give it more than a second thought. In my house, green paint in the bathroom sink is hardly cause for alarm.

Besides, I knew they had access to spray paint. I bought it for them. They were painting their bikes in an attempt to rejuvenate and make them last through the rest of the waning summer. I didn't want to spring for new bikes so I relented with the spray paint. It was another weak moment on the mommy-meter. But that's another article.

Back to the green paint in the bathroom. Not a federal offense, yet cause for a customary series of questions. You know, the usual: Who, What, Where, When and Why.

To be honest, I figured someone got green paint on his hands and was a little messy in cleaning it off. Even after all these years, I can be quite naïve.

I rustled them up and began the interrogation. At the same time, I attempted to remove the green paint with a washcloth.

The boys were incredulous. Green paint? Where? They didn't know about any green paint!

I showed them the sink.

Oh, that green paint! Yes, maybe they remembered something about that.

The washcloth was completely ineffective. The paint was securely attached to the once-white sink. I applied more soap, scrubbed harder and continued questioning.

How did the green paint get into the sink?

They looked at each other, then back to me. Then they admitted to using the spray paint. Without supervision. Duh.

They weren't telling me anything new. I swapped the washcloth for one of those non-scratching pads and really put my shoulder into it.

I wondered out loud: What were they spray-painting?

The answer was simple - toys.

The green paint had adhered itself in a common splatter pattern of small, evenly spaced dots. I rubbed the scrubbing pad in a circular motion and the paint started to break free from the surface of the sink.

I turned back to my boys. Where were the toys they were spray painting?

I was asking them where the toys were at that moment. My boys thought I wanted to know where the toys were when they were being spray-painted - which, when I think of it, would have been a much better question anyway.

The answer wasn't what I expected - in part because they misunderstood my question, and in part because their reply was shocking.

The toys were right here, in the bathroom, they answered as if I should have known that already. We spray-painted them there, they said, pointing at the newly-green polka-dot sink.

I set down the scrubbing pad so I could put 100 percent of my energy into the mad-mom glare I was working up.

The bathroom! I said the two words with as much exclamation as I could muster. The bathroom! I said it again, to hammer my point home.

You were spray painting. In this bathroom?

The boys did their best to look sheepish and forlorn.

Meanwhile I was scanning the rest of the room for more green paint. I could only imagine where it had landed.

Miraculously, it was nowhere besides the sink. That fact still surprises me. We dodged a green bullet there.

It's been quite a summer. My boys are young, busy and curious. I'm not sure how many more of their youthful adventures I can handle. Some days I think I can't wait for them to grow up so I can have an orderly house where the carpet is clean, beds are made, bikes are not spray-painted and white sinks remain white.

I'm not there yet. That fact became clear this morning when I went into the bathroom to clean the sink. My scrubbing hadn't been as thorough as I thought. There, on the left-hand-side, near the upper corner were three small green dots of paint. My first instinct should have been to scrub them away. I thought about it.

Then I thought about my boys, how much taller they've grown this summer and how their spray-painted bikes are going to be too small for them next year.

My house isn't perfect. Take the bathroom. There is a triangular pattern of green paint spatters near the upper left rim of the white sink. Unless you are really looking, you probably wouldn't notice them. Each time I go into the bathroom, I will.

Jill Pertler is a syndicated columnist and award-winning freelance writer. She welcomes reader comments and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or you can check out her Web site at