Bought from a garage sale for $5, it had seen a lot of life since its days in the Ikea store (*edit: I just realized this sells for $50 new-score!). Marker and crayon shapes and letters were scrawled all over. It looked a little lonely and sad, and because I wanted it to be one of Millie's birthday gifts, I decided we definitely needed paint to spruce it up.
Off the two of us went to the store, and after debating a while, I narrowed it down to a couple colors- a deep green which would cover over everything with one coat, or a cheerful, macaroni yellow that would take several coats. I held up the two small paint cans in front of Millie, and she peered at them thoughtfully from the cart. "Which one should we get, Millers?" And maybe because she seems to like yellow, or maybe because she doesn't point out the color green yet, she joyfully replied, "Yellow!" I sighed to myself, wondering why I was letting a one year old pick out a paint color, and set the yellow can in the cart.
The back and forth brushstrokes seemed almost therapeutic, even in the brightest July sun and heat. I'd start one coat earlier in the day, and layer on another as the sky turned different sherbet colors and the cicadas sang. Millie watched me paint some of the time, completely oblivious that it was going to be her birthday present (or even what is was, probably). At times, I grew a bit impatient, eager for the finished product, but I'd find myself looking out the window at it every so often and smiling. It's not perfect, and I hope no one looks too closely, but it's the bright yellow she wanted, and better than how we found it.
And in the end, I came to see it as a metaphor in some small way- how I'm helping to create the framework for her life, but she'll be the one to fill it full of stories and colors. I suppose it's easy to get sentimental and see the past what meets the eyes these day, though.
After all, the tiny baby met for the first time and I held in my arms nearly two years ago is hardly a baby at all anymore. And because time passes too quickly ever since she's been on this earth, I gave it to her a few days early. We spent yesterday afternoon drawing all the moons, hearts, and names she wanted.