Rainy Day Rainbows

Rainy Day Rainbows

From Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul

Rainy Day Rainbows

To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there.

Barbara Bush

Unless we live amongst the sand dunes of the Sahara, which we don’t, the rains must fall. They have chosen today, the day when K. C. is home from day care. I’ve only to look out the window to know K. C. and I will travel no trails outside our four walls this morning.

The rain has not deterred the ladies of the house; they’ve decamped for an enclosed mall. K. C. and I have been abandoned to map our own course.

We seek no guidance from such tomes as 101 Things to Do with Your Toddler Grandchild on a Rainy Day. Our genes bubble with creativity; our imaginations delight in its tangible expression. In other words, a rainy day to us is just another challenge on our chosen high road.

K. C. opts to begin in the kitchen. Sure, we’d already eaten our Corn Pops and milk, our scrambled eggs and maple syrup, but that was at seven o’clock right after Blue’s Clues. It’s now nine-thirty, two to three hours before lunch. K. C. and I make some peanut-butter cookies.

She works from a dining-room chair pushed flush with the kitchen counter. She cracks the egg; I pick the broken shell out of the bowl. I measure; she pours. We mash and stir together.

A small ball of dough is set aside for her, and quickly as I can, I form cookies on the baking sheet. Briefly, she idles, reminiscent of her play dough, forming curious shapes, perhaps voodoo dolls, perhaps cartoon creatures; it’s hard to say, but her intensity is keen. I have to hurry because as soon as the modeling is over, K. C. starts eating the cookie dough. I can’t blame her; I like it, too. My mother used to tell me it would give me worms. I didn’t believe it then; I don’t believe it now. Adults’ ploys can be so naive!

The cookies are in the oven. We have demolished the kitchen. Onward we go to the dining room. K. C. has decreed, “Let’s paint!”

I tape newspapers over the dining-room table while K. C. struggles into her plastic Pooh Bear smock. Now, I may be approaching geezer-hood, but I’ve still a dash or two of daring. From my secret place I bring out the materials that strike dread into the hearts of maternal neatness freaks everywhere. Big sheets of paper. Fingerpaints.

“Look what I found,” I proclaim. K. C. looks. Her grin is so wide it wiggles her ears. She has instantly recognized the paint pots I have in hand. She’s seen them at day care. We belly up to the table and get to work.

Things go well for a time. We out-Dali Dali. Van Gogh would wish his ear back to hear our merry banter as we do gaudy smears and flourishes, handprints, blurs and blots.

In her exuberance, K. C. accidentally brushes some paint on my forearm. Royal blue. When she sees the smear, she laughs. Never a challenge unmet, I retaliate with apple green on her arm. So it begins. No question, this is more fun than paper.

From fingertips to armpits, on the face and in the hair. In ten minutes we’re pretty much a mess. Nor are the dining-room chairs unscathed. Nor the kitchen counter and cookie sheet, for I’ve been making cookies all the while.

To begin eating cookies we need to first wash up. No problem. K. C. pushes her dining-room chair up to the kitchen sinks. We slosh and swab, splash around a bit of water . . . some puddles on the floor; we’ll clean it up later. Several towels look somewhat tie-dyed now. True artistry finds expression everywhere.

We aren’t quite perfectly clean; clean enough for cookies and milk, but not clean enough to pass inspection when the ladies get home, as, inevitably, they do.

They spot our artwork still drying on various pieces of furniture and taped to the kitchen cupboard doors. Eating cookies distracts them, but not for long. They have seen the state of their kitchen; they have seen the dining-room chairs; they have seen our technicolor hair, for I’d not had time to wash that.

K. C. is summarily escorted to the bathtub. I detour quickly to the basement to change the kitty litter. I am never pursued when I undertake that task.

Much later, after lunch, chastened, K. C. and I are hiding out in her room watching Teletubbies. As luck would have it, the real life sequence of the show is about painting. The scene opens on a floor covered with paper, washbasins full of paint and a dozen kids, all barefoot. K. C. watches intently.

The kids wade in the basins, dance and slide across the floor, footprints, handprints, kneeprints, bumprints. Darn, but that looks like fun!

“I wanna do that someday,” says K. C.

Cautiously, I reply, “Some day.”

“Not by myself. With you.”

“Okay, we’ll do it together.”

K. C. is pulling off her socks. “Now!” she shouts.

I wonder if maybe the kitty litter needs another change. I start humming, “Rain, rain, go away . . .”

Arthur Montague

PICKLES. ©2001, The Washington Post Writers Group. Reprinted with permission.

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