Denise Day Spencer

January 19, 2008

I can’t even paint a rock and get it right

Filed under: Random ramblings — denisedayspencer @ 2:22 pm

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not ready for grandchildren. Case in point: my tour of duty in the church nursery a few weeks ago.

Clay was going to be my helper and I knew most folks would be out of town for the holidays. I figured we’d just have one or two children. How hard could that be? And I had a plan. We were going to make things to remind us of the gifts the wise men brought Jesus. The first project: paint small rocks yellow to represent the gold. Pretty creative, huh?

Let me tell you, I had thought ahead, and I was quite proud of myself. I had come armed with everything we could possibly need: newspaper to protect the table, paint and brushes, a cup and a bottle of water and paper towels for clean-up, and even old t-shirts of Clay’s to use as paint smocks. As it turned out, there were a couple of actual paint smocks in the room, so we decided to go with those instead of the shirts. Bad mistake. But then, hindsight’s always better than foresight, isn’t it?

True to my suspicions, we only had two little girls, both four years old. They enjoyed the rock painting, and before I knew what was happening they were painting the palms of their hands, too, so they could make imprints on the newspaper. OK. No harm in that. We’d just have to get them cleaned up really well before they touched anything else.

Well. Both girls were wearing beautiful, fancy little dresses. “Terri’s” was a dark wine color. “Kerri’s” had a black velvet bodice and a white satiny skirt. Can you see where this is headed?

The time came to clean those little yellow hands. Clay took both girls to wash up, but neither used soap and they came back still significantly painted. Terri obediently took the wet paper towel I gave her and began to scrub until every speck of paint was gone. Kerri put her head down, pouted, and refused. She also refused to return to the bathroom with Clay or with me. It was then that I noticed the pale yellow splotches all over her beautiful satiny white skirt from where she’d rubbed her dress after the first washing, despite the paint smock. Clay and I were both alarmed. He said, “Mom, you’re just going to have to take her to the bathroom whether she wants to go or not.”

I was about ready to pick her up and carry her, but when I told her firmly that we were going, she (still mad) did walk down the hall with me. I soaped up my hands and scrubbed her paws myself. Then I began to work on the dress with a wet paper towel. “This sure is a pretty dress,” I ventured. “Is it new?” “Yes,” she answered. “I got it for Christmas.” Oh, dear; just as I had feared. When we returned to the room and I let Clay in on that revelation, he stated calmly, “Her mother is going to kill you.”

In the better lighting of the nursery, I could see how much of the yellow remained on the dress–enough that Clay’s prediction could actually come true. I grabbed the paint bottle and read the cleanup instructions. Cool water and soap. “I’ll be right back,” I told Clay, and off I went to the restroom again. I came back with a soapy wet paper towel and slipped quietly up to Kerri. “Don’t mind me,” I said cheerily. “You keep right on playing. I’m just going to keep working on this dress.” And I scrubbed. And scrubbed some more. At last I had it cleaned up to the point that you probably wouldn’t notice anything unless you were looking for it. But I still had to confess my dirty deed to her parents.

So tell me…is it significant that the very next Sunday they abolished the church nursery out of the blue in lieu of a “children’s church” format? I’m trying not to be paranoid. Really, I am. But the timing is suspicious, nonetheless.

I won’t be volunteering to work in children’s church, and something tells me they won’t be asking. But if I ever paint rocks with the grandchildren, they’re going to be dressed like this.



  1. […] Spencer: I Can’t Even Paint a Rock and Get It Right. Posted by: Michael Spencer @ 10:03 pm | Trackback | […]

    Pingback by The Boar’s Head Tavern » — January 19, 2008 @ 9:03 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks. I loved the story. Actually, you did get it right. That is exactly how you paint rocks with four-year-olds.

    I’ve been in children’s ministry for 16 years now. I know that some people will skydive or snowboard to satisfy their need to take risks. Psh. Sissies. All you need is yellow paint and Christmas dresses to get the heart pounding.

    Comment by Dee — January 21, 2008 @ 6:48 am | Reply

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