Tales from the Crib

As Halloween looms, Emma Milner confronts the demon decorating

With Halloween almost upon us, I decided it was high time for me to face the horrors lurking in the dumping ground that was once fondly referred to as ‘Joe’s Room’. Just before Joe was born we moved to a two-bed apartment with a maid’s room, for which we held high hopes and immediately renamed ‘Joe’s Room’. Sam would have his own room, Joe would have his own room and my husband and I would have our own room back. No more sharing with babies, both of whom I live and would die for, but let’s face it, a night’s sleep is a night’s sleep.

With the decorating largely left to me, I bought a Winne the Pooh frieze and was about to put it up when I discovered another one I liked more. The new one also had matching pictures. It was perfect. So I bought it, hiding the other one at the back of a cupboard, or so I thought.

To be honest I couldn’t say right now where either of the friezes or the pictures are, and I’m pretty sure the rug I bought, which doesn’t go with any of the other decorations (I think it has a farm on it) is hiding at the bottom of the pile of stuff that is occupying the newly-named ‘we-ought-to-sort-that-out-this-weekend’ room.

When I was pregnant with Sam, I dreamt of the day when I could dress up in maternity overalls and decorate the nursery. (I had a secret desire to don dungarees and reckoned being pregnant and painting was the only way I’d ever get to do it and get away with it).

I hadn’t had much decorating opportunity before as we only had one bedroom. Sam slept with us and, after listening to him rip an A-Z frieze off the wall one dark night, further home improvement attempts seemed futile.

I envied friends discussing collages, stamps and stencils and I saw Joe’s room as my chance to talk colour charts and curtains. But the moment passed, and I’m now mortified to admit that my baby’s room (he’s now 10 months old) remains under construction.

Feeling both embarrassed and saddened that I had let Joe down, I began conjuring up valid excuses for future conversations he and I may have: ‘So mum, I can see lots of photos of Sam’s room, but where did I sleep?’ ‘Hmmm, well, you see, about that…’

When I really couldn’t come up with any credible excuse, I decided it was time to do something, and pronto. So now, the room is partially clear, Joe’s bed, chair and table have been squeezed in and his bookcase is about to be delivered.

All I need now (no, I still can’t find the original friezes and rug) is a theme, but I’m worried I’ll get it wrong. I visited a friend recently and, as she was playing a game with Joe, her youngest piped up, ‘I used to hate it when mum did that to me.’ I would feel mortified if Joe turned around one day and said ‘I used to hate those animals/stars/pirates mum painted in my room.’

Sam’s theme is blue, which was his favourite colour a year ago when we moved. You wouldn’t think you could go wrong with a colour. He has a blue bed, a blue bookcase, a blue rug and his grandma even made him a gorgeous blue quilt. In hindsight, I think this must just have been the only colour he knew how to say. Last week his favourite colour was green and this week it’s purple. When asked what his favourite colour is, blue no longer makes it into the top five. I had no idea children could be so fickle.

Sam also has posters on his wall (most of which he’s pulled off, but hey, that’s toddlers for you) and a few choice toys displayed lovingly on the bookcase and the floor, although admittedly most of these are ones
he carried in there in a strop the day we brought Joe home.

With all this in mind, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have to stop having imaginary conversations with a grown-up Joe and just bite the bullet and get on with it.

So, unless anyone comes up with any better ideas, I’m about to enter a world of paint, picture hooks and sticky-back plastic.

Wish me luck.

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