April 14, 2003

Big Brother Gives New Sister an Artistic Welcome

Filed under: Art and About Kids — admin @ 2:33 pm

A new baby arrived at our house earlier this month. That means Tyrian, our two-year-old, is now a big brother.

From the moment we found out I was pregnant, my husband and I kept Tyrian in the loop about the baby, telling him about my doctor appointments, showing him ultrasound pictures, and having him help set up the baby’s room. But we wanted Tyrian to have a chance to do something really special to help prepare for our new family member.

Both my husband and I are first-borns in our families, and we are particularly sensitive to how our little addition is going to change the world as Tyrian knows it. Although neither Matt nor I consciously remember the moment we were dethroned by our siblings, both of us are positive it was a life-changing experience that helped shape who we are today. Neither of us would trade our birth position, and we want to show Tyrian how special it is to be the oldest.

As usual, I turned to the arts for answers. I had an idea that Tyrian and I could paint a unique work of art for the baby’s room. The inspiration came from a mixture of nostalgia and practicality. Much to my mother’s chagrin, I still have the dresser my parents bought for me when I was a tot. It was an inexpensive purchase that Mom never intended for me to keep 30 years. But hey, the drawers are a perfect size to hold a large portion of my wardrobe, and why should I have to learn to fit my clothes into a new furniture unit when this one has served me so well? However, the dresser has been looking a little tired and outdated lately, and never matched the furniture I share with my husband. So recently, I decided to replace my dresser with a piece I inherited from my grandmother, and my old dresser was put into service as extra storage in an unused room.

Then I thought about how all those home decorating shows and magazines encourage us to buy furniture at thrift stores, flea markets and consignment shops and give them new life with a coat of paint. Tyrian and I love to paint, and what greater gift could he give his sibling than original art?

I decided that the body of the dresser would be white, and Tyrian would custom decorate the drawer fronts. Without Tyrian’s “help,” I covered up the vintage 1970s walnut stain with three coats of a nice, warm-tone white latex paint. Then I set the six drawers on some newspaper on the floor and stood back while Tyrian waited for his muse. He always tells me which painting tools he wants to use, and on this day he chose a fat brush, a tiny brush, a small roller and his ten digits. He also opted for all seven basic rainbow colors from the non-toxic finger paints I provided.

At first, the good behavior we have been drilling into Tyrian for two years backfired on me. He refused to paint the furniture. He set to work on the newspaper around the drawers, but was distinctly uncomfortable actually putting paint on the drawer fronts. Once I showed him it was O.K., the creativity started flowing.

I admit, I had a vision for how I hoped the project would turn out, but Tyrian surpassed my expectations. He approached each drawer as an individual canvas, using different colors and techniques on each. On two of the drawers, he insisted on using crayon as well as paint. On one crayon drawer, he drew squiggles and then as not to obscure them, he went over the red and green crayon with yellow paint. Quite minimalist. On the other crayon drawer, he mirrored the squiggle marks on the right side of the drawer with some finger-painted squiggles on the left. One drawer has only brush work, while two are primarily done with the roller. The last drawer is a combination of brush and roller, with a Tyrian hand print right in the center as his “signature.”

When Tyrian was done, which he announced by declaring it was time for a bath (and trust me, it was), I let the paint dry for a couple of days and then went over the entire dresser with two coats of a non-toxic varnish. Once I reassembled the dresser in the baby’s room, I got tears in my eyes as I stood back to observe the masterpiece.

The drawers had looked great individually, but collectively, the effect is stunningly whimsical, colorful and beautiful. I brought Tyrian into the room to see what he had made, and it took him a moment to realize what he was looking at. I knew he had made the connection when a huge smile curled the corners of his lips. He calls it the “baby’s dresser” and hasn’t made any efforts to use it for himself, so I think he might have a sense of the gift he has made. But I know it will be several years before he realizes the true gift he is sharing with his little sister. A part of Tyrian’s creative soul will live in Allyndreth’s room to greet her each morning and comfort her every night.

1 Comment »

  1. 3matthews…

    Trackback by 2telecharger — January 12, 2022 @ 7:45 pm

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