It is my kid’s birthday tomorrow, turning 10. I’m having one of those “When did my kid get so old?!” moments, but I’m also just proud of who he is and who he is growing up to be. He’s a cool kid and I’m pretty confident he’s going to be a cool adult too. Right now he is BIG into space and is hell bent on working for NASA when he grows up. Hey, I’m not going to discourage that for one second! That is a pretty cool goal for a kid to have if you ask me. Not “I want to be a rockstar” but “I want to work for NASA and discover new planets!”.
As I said, my kid is cool.
For his birthday what he wanted with NASA stuff, especially a NASA t-shirt. I managed to find a NASA tshirt and a NASA baseball cap on Amazon.com, but I wanted to up the ante a bit. He already has Rubik’s Cubes on his wall, but there is still lots of blank space. I put some feelers out and a maker friend of mine knew of another local maker who does custom decals. 50$ and three days later I have these…
SO COOL! I can’t wait for him to get home from school today and see them!!
I have been a busy step-mom. My kid is off camping with his bio-mom so I took the opportunity to redo his room. First step, obviously, was painting the walls, banishing the horrid bright yellow from my home. His room is now the same colour as my sanctuary, which is a nice soothing grey (Sherwin Williams Serious Grey). I love this grey so much, to me it is the perfect grey. Not too dark, but still dark enough to feel cosy. Very neutral undertone – not overly warm or overly cool, though I would say if anything it edges towards a slightly cooler undertone. It is a wonderful colour.
Anyway, with the walls painted I then started working on phase two, which was the main event.
My large hand painted murals of Rubik’s Cubes.
Yes, I am insane. And yes, they were fussy and a lot of work, but frankly not as much work as I was expecting.
Here are the steps I took to get this done:
Located and purchased an overhead projector. I was able to get mine second hand off of Kijiji for 40$.
Printed off black and white pictures of Rubik’s cubes.
Traced the pictures on to transparent sheets. (I actually couldn’t find proper transparency sheets, so I just used those clear sheet protectors instead. Made tracing really easy. Just put the page I was tracing in the sleeve, traced it using a Sharpie, and then took the page back out.
Projected the image on to the wall using my projector and traced sheet.
OPTIONAL: Trace the outline in pencil. I only did this for the first one but frankly didn’t feel it helped, so for the second one I just painted from the projection rather than the tracing. Worked well.
Paint the projection on to the wall. I used a matte black paint that we had left over from when I painted our movie theatre room. I found I did need to do a second coat.
The “exploding” smaller one was the first one I did and is about 2 and a half feet high. I think my projector was at a bit of an angle because the cube is sliiiiiiiiiiiiiightly distorted but it still looks good. Doesn’t hurt that I have also painted the inside of the squares in glow in the dark paint. FUN!
The larger one is about 4 and a half feet high and looks way better, in part because it is bigger and therefore the lines and curves were way easier to paint. Small mistakes aren’t so apparent.
And let me be clear, these are NOT perfect. But they are hand painted with love. He’ll always know that I, his loving step mom, painted them using her own two hands. Every imperfect corner and squiggly line just speaks to my having done it myself. Anyone could have purchased a peel-and-stick wall decal. I HAND PAINTED mine, so clearly I win. 😉
So with the murals done I just have final details to finish up. I hung some new curtains and made Rubik’s Cube curtain holder-backer things using some inexpensive slightly broken cubes given to me by a friend/co-worker. Same friend is 3D printing me some glow-in-the-dark cube stands as well, which is extremely awesome. I still have to suspend some Star Wars models we have from the ceiling. And I have some more things to make glow in the dark, like the ceiling fan blades. Small details. The room looks awesome though. I’m really pleased.
Prior to the move, in order to get my kid on board, I asked him what sort of room he wanted to have. He sort of shrugged so I suggested that maybe I could make it a Minecraft themed room, which got him pretty excited. The Minecraft Bedroom became the main talking point from then on out for how the new house is going to be sooooooooooooooooooooo awesome.
Fast forward five months, his four year obsession with Minecraft seems to have suddenly waned. He at first said that, no, he still wanted a Minecraft bedroom, but last weekend he finally conceeded that yes, he isn’t as into Minecraft anymore and maybe something else would be better.
Enter Rubik’s Cubes.
Rubik’s cubes have become a major obsession for him as of late, and he’s getting really good. I can mess it up all I like and he will be able to solve for one side in less than 10 seconds, and he is working on solving the whole thing. He has a number of different cubes as well (a 2×2, a couple 3×3, a 2×4, and he has a 4×4 ordered). So yeah… Rubik’s Cubes are the way to go here.
But what the hell do I do! It was so easy when I was going to do minecraft, I was just going to do the little squares to make grass blocks, maybe some cobble stone, paint in a creeper or something. No problem. Toss on a red bedspread with a red pillow and we’re good. But now… I just don’t know. I mean, sure, there are wall decals, but that feels really lame….. I just really want to make this super special for him.
Ah mother’s day. The day where I thanky mom for giving birth to me and for putting up with all my nonsense. My mom is pretty awesome in all honesty and I like to think I take after her at least a little. My ability to sew and make things is definitely from her. She’s so damned creative and skilled, it is crazy.
I also have a pretty great mother in law. You know all the “horrible mother in law” stereotypes? Yeah, she matches none of them. She’s lovely and gracious and about as kind a person as you could imagine.
And finally, my role as a mother… This is my fifth mother’s day with Noah in my life and my thankfulness is unending. That kid… What a great kid. It is so wonderful to have him get excited about mothers day for me. I had orders to “not look or else” while he made me a mother’s day gift, which was am “upgraded” version of the purse he made me last year,complete with phone and lipstick and wallet. So awesome. We’re going to have mother’s day tacos for supper too! Woo!
Noah came home from school on Monday and during supper he said:
Older kids on the playground today said that as you get older you like your parents less and less. Is that true?
… Cue the heartbreak. 😦
I hate so much that kids are planting that idea in my kid’s head. He is in grade three and this was what he was worried about! On one level I’m glad he was worried and questioning if it was true. I’m glad he did the just take what they said as truth. And I’m very glad he felt comfortable coming to talk to us about.
It was a hard question to answer, though, at least honestly. Let’s face it – in a lot of families that is exactly what happens! But we tried to work it out why that might happen to some kids and their parents. What we decided the problem is that a lot of kids don’t feel like their parents trust them and feel like the treat them too young,and that makes the frustrated and annoyed at their parents, so then they break more rules to try to seem more grown up but all that does is make their parents think they are even LESS grown up and that they need more rules. Noah seemed to think that made sense.
I said that we will always try to trust you and trust that you will make good choices. He then brought up how last year no one, not even us his parents, were trusting him or believing him and he was allowed to do hardly anything. Then, without further prompt he added “… But that was when I was lying a lot.” I asked him if he thought he should have been trusted more when he was lying much, and he said no. Then I said, “so right now, you’re doing well in school, you aren’t lying any more, you’re always friendly and polite and nice. How are things now? Do you feel like we’re treating you more grown up?”. He nodded and I said “that’s the trick, honey. The better you behave, the more you make good choices, the more you act grown up, the more grown up we are going to treat you. Not every kid understands that and that is probably why they get so upset with their parents.”
His closing statement on the topic before switching to the “2$ hot dog, 1$ water” song was to say
“well, I hope that never happens to me. “
You and me both, kid. You and me both.
And you know, I am cautiously optimistic that it won’t happen. We have an amazing relationship with that kid, built around mutual respect, mutual boundaries, and shared fun time. I have promised him that I will not lie to him, and I try very hard to hold true to that. I also make a very conscious effort to give him grown up, real answers to his questions. I don’t kid-ify what I tell him or how I answer him, and I think he really appreciates that. I also play with him on his terms and at his level. I go and play with him in the snow. I have water fights with him in the summer time. I play video games with him. Frankly, I’m fun. I think I’m his “fun” parent, and I think that is a pretty wonderful role for a stepmom to have. He sincerely wants to play with me! Just last Saturday I was woken up at 730am by him asking if I was busy. I said that I was in bed trying to sleep, so.. Yeah, kinda busy. But it turned out he had prepared a special set up for me and him to play minecraft. Yeah, I wasn’t busy anymore.
My hope is that as he gets older we will continue to have such an amazing relationship. I have said many many times that I won the stepson lottery. He is just wonderful and thoughtful and fun and funny and loving and just a great kid. I know a lot of step parents have a hard time of it, but I don’t. Sure, there are days when I want to run screaming from the responsibility and noise and effort of it all, but I think ALL parents, both bio and step, have days like that. I love my son and I don’t think I could love him more if he were biologically mine. That kid is an amazing kid, and I feel extremely lucky to have him in my life.
So hopefully, as the years pass, what those older kids on the playground said happens won’t happen. Hopefully he won’t like his parents less and less as he gets older. Sure, I’m sure in time he won’t be as inclined to spend so much time with me and won’t want to play with me as much, but I just hope we always have a healthy, loving relationship.