I am blessed beyond words to have two daughters who don’t ask for anything. I mean nothing. They don’t ask for clothes, shoes, toys, gadgets…anything. I have to beg them to go shopping with me, and I have to beg them to tell me what they like when we’re in stores. I know, this too shall pass.
A typical conversation with our tweenager goes a little something like this:
“Ava, you need some new jeans. Yours are too short.”
“What kind do you like?”
“I don’t care.”
“You have to care. Gap? Target?”
Oh, but it will.
Our eight-year-old is as easy going, if not more.
“Maryn, your shoes are filthy. You need a new pair.”
“Hmmm….they’re fine. They still fit.”
“Yes, but they’re awful.”
And I suppose it is okay, but I can’t have my children wearing high waters and tennies the color of red mulch.
Then, there’s the issue of their bedroom, which they still share. We live in a traditional Cape Cod home with closets built into the eaves. This means we have storage fit for a toddler. You have to stoop down to enter the “walk-in closets”, and there’s no place to hang anything unless dresses and pants are to dust the floor. Items have to be folded if they’re to remain clean (but not wrinkle-free).
Before long, the tweenager will demand a better closet and better clothes to put in it.
She’ll also notice that pink and blue polka dots are too young for middle schoolers, despite the rising third grader who occupies that space with her. Pastels and shapes are still acceptable. The pictures of Peter Rabbit are still charming. Or, they’ve been on the walls so long they’ve become ignored.
Yes. Beatrix Potter.
I know…I know…it’s time to free the rabbits Watership Down-style. It’s time to upgrade the bedroom into a big girl’s haven (that a little sister can tolerate). A recent conversation went a little something like this:
“Girls, your dad and I want to give your room a facelift. Redecorate. Turn the playroom into a real closet. What do you think?”
They looked up from YouTube (Crafty Friday) long enough to force smiles.
“Okay…” they said in unison.
“What look do you want? Purples? Pinks? Flowers?”
“Sure,” Ava said.
“All of it or none of it?” I asked.
“That’s fine,” Maryn shrugged.
I felt anger building up. “NO! You have to take an interest. Something has to appeal to you two. This is your space. You own it. NOW WHAT KIND OF BEDROOM DO YOU WANT?!”
Maryn sat frozen-faced. Ava began to bob her extra-long foot against the couch, a sign that she was thinking. Plotting. After a minute, she spoke.
“Lilly. I love it.”
I looked at Maryn, who was still too afraid to move or speak.
“Do you know how much that stuff costs?!”
Ava smiled. Of course she did.
Fine. I accept the challenge. Lilly it is.
I went online and typed in the name of the famous fashion designer from Palm Springs, Florida. The Queen of Prep died in 2012, but her style lives on through Garnet Hill catalogs and in coastal community boutiques and outdoor malls in Southern cities. The cost of one twin comforter? $238.
Nervously, I searched Ebay. The prices were higher. And I needed TWO of everything.
I decided there had to be a better way of creating a space with bright colors and whimsical designs (of rabbits, I bet) without losing the whole house. I turned to Etsy, my new obsession, for help. I found it. Lord love, I found it!
It turns out that you can do just about anything with a bolt of fabric. Pillows, curtains, lamp shades and artwork can be made out of a few yards of the loudest designs you can imagine. Instead of buying actual Lilly pictures (worth thousands), I could frame a 12×12 square of fabric for wallhangings. Instead of a $75 neckroll pillow sold in stores, I could have one made for $25. Rather than going broke on two comforters, I could buy two solid white bed-in-a-bag sets and add a splash of Pulitzer by covering the headboard in a clashing (I mean, contrasting) print for $30 each.
AND — for that added touch — a sassy girl from the University of South Carolina could cut out the shape of West Virginia in a Lilly print and frame it for me…for a bargain price of $6.
Gotta pay those Delta Zeta dues, I guess.
I’m still in the process of transforming the girls’ room from Peter Rabbit to Lilly Pulitzer, but the process has been a lot of fun — for me, that is. Ava and Maryn have enjoyed watching me squeal when a package arrives, a box containing a print of jellyfish, sea turtles and gigantic peonies the color of pink elephants. But once the room is finished, I have to be prepared never to see the girls again. If it turns out to be as festive as Pinterest entices and Etsy delivers, they’ll come out only for food and water.
And that’ll have to be “okay.”