In the real world, I had two such helpers myself, yesterday. I finally got sick of the dingy breezeway, so I put the children in clothing I wouldn't mind throwing away if I had to, (plus an added smock for daughter), and old hats to avoid having to cut any hair. I made sure the baby was safe, secure, warm and out of danger of flying paint. Paint brushes were passed out. Instructions were clearly given, and we took to painting.
Well, it wasn't long before Baby Boy started to fuss. He had wiggled off some blankets and was now cold. Since the breezeway is just off the kitchen, I put him in his swing (a favorite morning spot of his) and felt he'd be safe there and perhaps sleep, which he eventually did. But, I had to keep poking in and out to check on him. During one of these intervals, my oldest decided to take it upon himself to paint the siding of the house outside the breezeway! Thankfully, most of it hosed off, and he was given a great lesson on listening and obeying. (Before checking on the baby, he was given clear instruction to paint the garage door.) He was promptly sent to the sand pile to play and could no longer paint. Amazingly, daughter was doing great with her little brush. She only sat on the paint can lid once and painted where ever I told her to. Then, I popped in to check on the baby again and once returned to the paint site, she was gone and painting the siding. Another hose down and she was promptly disarmed of her paintbrush and sent to the sand pile.
I continued painting in peace (and frequent checks to baby and children) until daughter had a break down and asked to go to bed. She's going through a growth spurt and melts by late morning. I got her washed up and tucked in bed only to be greeted by a wide-eyed 4 year old asking earnestly if he could return to painting. "I'll never paint the green again," he vowed. I told him he'd have to do as I said, to which he agreed and we both took to painting.
It was great! He did an excellent job and we got the breezeway done (except for the stairs and landing). He loved seeing what we accomplished and asked to paint more. I sent him to a few bits on the garage to paint. Once he worked on those, he asked to paint the garage door. I figured no harm and put him to it. I could see him from the kitchen window while I did dishes. Things were going fine and I gave thanks to the Lord for my little man. I put my head down to scrub a difficult pot and when I raised it to the window, son was no longer at the garage door. I ran outside only to see him painting an old metal door that hangs, unused off the breezeway.
He received a reprimand and lecture about listening and obeying since he did not have permission to paint that door. He understood but, "just wanted to make it look pretty." I figured there was no harm in painting that old door, but made it crystal clear that he was to paint nothing else without my permission first. So, we parted to our individual tasks and once dishes her accomplished, I returned to check on him. The door was half painted, but each individual pane of glass now sported a different design in white exterior satin paint. Son was promptly disarmed again, the glass unsuccessfully hosed down and the paint put away.
Hubby was so pleased with the work on the breezeway that he didn't mind the siding and door were painted. We both decided that the lessons learned by the children in helping, listening, obey and just getting to paint were worth much more than the cost of buying additional exterior paint to fix the white stain on the green siding.
If there's one thing I've learned in being a parent for 4 1/2 years is that teaching them chores and jobs is messy! But, when you have willing helpers and productive children, it's worth it.....most of the time. Sometimes, I do just shoo them away so I can get the job done. Trying to thaw a stubbornly still frozen chicken as dinnertime looms closer and closer is not a task a child can easily help with. Eloise Wilkin never painted a picture of that.