47: That Wall Had to Go

47: That Wall Had to Go

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Home Sweet Home

That Wall Had to Go

Spontaneity has its time and its place.

~Arthur Frank Burns

That wall had to go. It turned one wide hall into two narrow ones just off the small entry hall of our house. Why have two narrow halls when one wide hall would be so much nicer? And besides, it would expand the entry hall and make everything much brighter. Yes, the wall had to go.

My husband’s idea was to demolish it one weekend when we had no other plans. He is extremely handy and did all our home remodeling projects himself with the help of our three sons. I helped too and really became quite good with a hammer and a paint roller. The wall project was scheduled to begin in two weeks but, in the meantime, I had my own plan.

What is it that you tell your children about walls? Don’t write on them. Don’t draw on them. Keep your hands off them so they don’t get dirty. Well, that was all about to change in my house. I went shopping and bought all of the supplies I needed and put them in a big box. I moved the box into the hall. And then I called my three sons — ages nine, seven and five — and asked them to come in so I could talk to them.

Groaning… lots of groaning. “Mom, do we have to come in?” They were playing outside and didn’t want to stop playing. They didn’t think anything I could possibly tell them could be important enough for them to have to interrupt their play. But, being the good boys they were, they came in. I sat them down on the floor in front of the wall in the hall and started to talk.

I explained that we were going to be remodeling and that the wall was going to be taken out. But before that happened I had an important project for them. I wanted every inch of both sides of the wall covered with their drawings and their words, or whatever they wanted to put there! Just squiggly lines were okay too. My boys just sat with their mouths open and stared at me. They knew I was a little wacky and did strange things that most moms didn’t do, but they thought that I had really lost it this time. All these years I had been telling them to not draw on the walls and now I was telling them I wanted them to draw on the walls.

I divided the wall into sections — one for each boy and one for my husband and me. We wanted to play too! We could draw or write whatever we wanted. No restrictions, no rules and no critiquing the other guy’s work. Just fun! The boys were a little reluctant and it took some demonstrations on my part to get them going. I showed them my box of supplies. In it were markers. Lots of markers. Hundreds of markers. Markers of every color under the rainbow. I picked one up and started to draw. I drew a flower. Right there on the wall. Now my boys were getting excited. They figured out that I really meant they could draw on the wall. They each picked up a handful of markers and started in. What fun!

One of my sons was being bullied at school. He drew a picture of the bully on the wall and then drew a mustache on him, gave him a huge, ugly nose, pimples, and put him in a pink dress. We all laughed at the way the bully looked. I think that made my son feel good and suddenly that bully wasn’t as frightening as he had been. My other sons drew whatever they wanted and I contributed too. When my husband came home, he drew too. We had a wonderful time. We played tic-tac-toe. Each day, for two weeks, we would draw something else on our wall — both sides — things that had happened at school, things that had happened in the neighborhood, things that had happened with friends. Each event was duly noted on the wall.

We had the most interesting wall in the entire neighborhood. Maybe even in the whole city. My kids invited their friends in to see this masterpiece. Some of the moms were not too pleased with me because they thought their kids might get the wrong idea and start drawing on the walls at their homes. Too bad! I assured them that my boys knew that this was the only wall in the house they could draw on and that I wasn’t worried.

After two weeks of the artists-in-residence program there was literally no blank space left on our “canvas.” Both sides of our wall were covered with the most interesting combination of drawings and words, in a rainbow of colors. Now came the even more fun part — the day the remodeling was to start. It was time for the wall to come tumbling down. All five of us — my husband, three boys and me — had hammers and safety goggles. The boys had done enough work with their father over the years that he didn’t have to explain safety procedures to them. They all knew how to handle a hammer and the purpose of the goggles.

On the count of three the demolition began. Each person bashed in the section that he had created. I remember my son standing there looking at his picture of the bully and saying, “Take this! This is for you!!” And then smashing him in the nose and pink dress with the hammer. The bully crumbled into a thousand pieces. Hmmm — this was possibly not the most politically correct behavior but it certainly was a good way for my son to get rid of his anger. And no one got hurt.

That wall was down in a day. Within the next few weeks, my husband put in all of the support beams necessary and then we got rid of the old studs. Suddenly, where two narrow halls had been, there was one wide hall. What a difference. We redid the floors and painted the walls. I made a stained glass window to go next to the front door and my husband installed it. The sunlight flooded in and reflected off of the bevels of the glass. The effect was beautiful.

This remodeling project was finished. We had all participated in making it happen and we were all very proud of the way it turned out. By the way, my sons loved to tell the story of how their mom made them draw on the walls. And contrary to what some of the moms thought would happen, my sons never, ever drew on any other walls in our house again.

~Barbara LoMonaco

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