Life with a toddler is colourful. Sometimes, it's a wash of warm pinks and yellows, spread across the blank page that was our life beforehand. And other times it's more of a frantic "if you try to drink that cloudy water you just washed your brush in one more time, that's the end of watercolour painting forever".
How true it is that the most joyful moments of parenting aren't the ones you plan. Laying out the paper, collecting the paint and brushes and water, imagining wonderful, peaceful hours of artistry together -- it guarantees nothing. Peaceful, our painting was not. I didn't picture so much splashing. Or so much time spent trying to squeeze a small hand into a smaller jar. Or such general wetness. (Surely, the 'water' in 'watercolour' would have warned me? Wouldn't a bucket of water alone have been just as much fun?) But it was wonderful, in a different way.
Rather than painting on the paper, Tilly loved painting on herself. And she loved painting spots (a.k.a. repeatedly banging her brush on the table). She also put these two together, and worked out that she could paint her own freckles.
Both Justin and I have quite freckly arms, and one of Tilly's favourite pass-times is poking those freckle, to which we're supposed to respond by pretending to be electrocuted (this game, if you hadn't guessed, was Justin's invention). Now, finally, with her watercolour-spotted arms, Tilly could join in all of the game. Shaking, convulsing, buzzing -- what good family fun!
So we raise our glasses -- or cloudy-water-filled jam jars -- to the fun that's to be found in mess and chaos and painting outside the box, outside the paper, outside of our plans. (But, no, don't drink that!)