Award-winning writer: Jackie Papandrew

Airing My Dirty Laundry!

The Garden Room

She called it her garden room. She was four years old then, and the floral theme in her first "big-girl" bedroom delighted her.

We painted the walls pink and hung lacy little curtains at the window. We used stencils to paint dainty flowers on the pink walls. She held the brush and proudly created a few of them all by herself. Some of her work went outside the lines. So did some of mine. Colorful smudges took the place of the intended clean, stenciled edges, as if the flowers on the wall were blowing in a gentle breeze. We decided to leave it that way.

I nailed a small wooden bench to a section of picket fencing. Then, together, we painted the whole structure white and added more stenciled flowers -- red roses this time -- all over the bench. We wove fake ivy and silk flowers along the fencing to complete the look. The bench and its fence were secured to one of my daughter's bedroom walls, and a mirror -- bordered with glued-on ivy and still more silk flowers -- was mounted above.

She'd sit on that bench in her garden room, cuddling her crew of stuffed animals, and she would pretend she was in a real garden. Some days, she'd play dress-up in front of the mirror, wearing a lovely hat adorned, naturally, with flowers. Once, I walked in to find her breathing deeply.

"I'm just smelling all of my flowers, Mommy," she said simply. At that moment, I could smell them too.

Occasionally, I was invited in for tea parties. These were formal affairs at which I was expected to wear a pretty hat and conduct myself in a manner befitting my lovely surroundings. Sometimes I succeeded at this, but often -- too often -- I was so preoccupied with the day's must-do tasks that I failed to fully enjoy the garden party.

Many days, after I'd excused myself and rushed out, she would carry on the party with her faithful, fuzzy friends. Later, I'd find her curled up on the bench asleep, her head resting on them.

Sadly or not depending on your perspective -- the garden room is no more. My flower child has grown into a teenager, a Mary Quite Contrary who has long been embarrassed by her blooming bedroom.

So this summer we finally updated it. We took down the bench and its fencing and put them in the garage. We removed the prettily painted shelf with its daisy-shaped knobs underneath that held trophies and ribbons and other childhood memorabilia.

We painted the room lime green yes, heaven help me, lime green -- because that's the color desired by the girl whose legs are now longer than the quaint bench she used to nap on. She also wanted black, functional-looking furniture with nary a flower to be found. And she has plastered the walls with posters of young male actors and rock stars who look like they could use an attitude adjustment.

When I told her that I preferred flowers on the walls, she informed me I'd turned into an old fuddy duddy. She's right. And what amuses me is that I'm OK with that.

The other day, I stood in the garage and stared at the still-beautiful little bench, symbol now of a line crossed in the inevitable journey out of childhood, a journey that seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. What I wouldn't give to attend one more tea party.

~ Jackie Papandrew ~
© 2008, All Rights Reserved

Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at:  JackiePapandrew.com

[ by Jackie Papandrew Copyright © 2008, (me@jackiepapandrew.com) -- submitted by: Jackie Papandrew ]

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