It’s tough being the middle kid.
Not that my husband (the eldest of his siblings) or I (the youngest of mine) know this firsthand. But we see the struggles our second-born-son-third-born-child faces. The last few weeks have been rough for him–lots of temper tantrums, tears, frustration. Rough for mom and dad who love him so much, but must continually seek ways to teach him confidence, appropriate ways to express anger and, above all, help him develop a sense of self-worth and belonging when he feels lost.
No one ever says parenting is easy. And I am sure we do it all wrong sometimes.
But we try hard to figure out how to give our son what he needs.
Because, when all is said and done, we believe that is what this whole parenthood thing is about. What does this little man NEED to feel loved, valued, empowered, safe and secure?
Sometimes the answers are not as obvious as one might imagine; we are all so different in what makes us feel those things.
But we press on to find these answers because we believe the hard work of creating family, of raising kids–is so worth it.
Our little boy went off to Grandma and Grandpa’s house over MEA weekend, and we decided to do something special for him while he was gone. Something that says, “We love you. We hear you. We value you. We are so happy you are OUR boy. No matter what.” Something that embraces his interests and the bright, beautiful colors of his personality.
For years, his room has been a hideous grimy shade of yellow with an equally hideous wallpaper border. It was quite possibly the ugliest room in the house.
But when J came home, it was no longer any of those things.
It was suppose to be a quick, Tuesday night project. It ACTUALLY took three full days to complete. Mainly because that wall paper border decided it wasn’t coming down alone and took with it big chunks of drywall. Of course, the walls then had to be mudded and sanded.
Then the first layer of paint. Gray. Safe, neutral gray. Not exactly what our nine year old would have ordered.
There would be a redeeming accent wall with plenty of color.
He loves Minecraft, like every other boy in the universe. And while there are many true-blue Minecraft themed rooms out there on Pinterest, with the authentic building blocks painted on the walls and everything, I assessed our natural, God-given talents before getting too carried away.
It turns out that plain, honest-to-goodness squares are what we are awesome at. And that Frog Tape is our new best friend.
I was also determined to use leftover paint from our furniture projects. Lucky for us, the colors we had stocked were very Minecraft-y.
We have lots of scrap wood laying around the garage, and the kids love trying their hand at building shelves or bird feeders or whatever else catches their fancy.
This wood piece was something J himself made–and I wanted to make sure HIS handiwork was evident in his own room. And so it became his headboard, after stenciling his initial for a pop of color.
I love how it is rough, rugged and reclaimed–and how old deck boards have a new life as ART. I love how he made it himself, beaming with pride as his daddy taught him how to cinch the boards tight. Just. So.
When J came home, we had the great reveal.
He loved it.
The bright walls.
His headboard that HE created.
How his siblings whined that we never did anything this nice in THEIR rooms. He basked in the delight of being the new owner of The Best Bedroom In The House.
And when things settled down and everyone filed out, I happened to peek in as he sat alone in his room. He sat still on his bed (had I ever seen him in the state of stillness before?) gazing around him. Taking it all in.
And on his face was the biggest smile I had seen in a long time.
It was a smile that said he felt special. He felt loved.
This is one instance when I felt utter confidence that we, as parents, totally did it right.