A Tale of Two Tables—And How My 2-Year-Old Taught Me to Chill Out and Have Fun Painting Furniture With Him

I learned a few Important Painting Lessons this week—and some Very Important Life Lessons too—thanks to my 2-year-old son, Joey.

Joey and Me

Joey and Me

Joey is a helper.

He follows my husband around our yard with his little Fisher-Price bubble mower every time G cuts the grass. He stands at the dishwasher and hands me plate after plate when it is time to unload. And he gets really mad if I forget and pour the laundry soap into the washing machine without him. (Really mad!)

The other day I got really mad at Joey.

I was working on this table that belonged to my grandmother.

grandmas table_before

A while back, I painted it a basecoat of American Paint Company’s Bordello, a scandalous shade of hot pink. Now I was finally finishing the project, painting over the pink with dark blue Born on the 4th.

grandmas table_bordello

I painted my Mom’s old 1970’s plastic faux fireplace Born on the 4th over Bordello last Christmas. I love this color combo so much, I want to add a few more pieces like this into our living room and dining room starting with this table.

Now American Paint Company’s paints are 100% all-natural clay chalk and mineral paints. This paint is T-H-I-C-K! It is so thick that I usually water it down by spooning a few scoops of paint into a rinsed-out yogurt container then giving it several good sprays with a water bottle. This stretches the paint so I get more out of each can while still providing excellent coverage.

Sometimes, I swipe a bit of paint onto my table and then spray water directly onto it as I’m painting to thin out the paint even more and give my project a nice smooth finish.

That’s what I did with the Born on the 4th on this table. Then I set down my water bottle and paint brush and went to answer the phone.

* * *

Here’s where my little helper enters the story.

When I came back into the kitchen, Joey was standing on his Lightning McQueen step stool vigorously spraying water with two hands—onto the table I just finished painting.

There was a huge puddle of midnight blue water on the bottom shelf and a waterfall dripping down one of the legs.

Here’s where I got really mad.

I yelled. Joey looked at me like I was crazy.

Then he started crying. He was just trying to help, after all.

I felt like a huge jerk as I tried to clean up the mess and salvage my table.

* * *

Painting Lesson #1:

The table was fine. I brushed out the drips, soaked up the puddle with a paper towel and let it dry. The next day, I put on another coat of blue. No big deal. The whole thing dried beautifully and I realized I can add even more water than I usually do (although not quite as much as Joey did) and still get a nice finish.

-I distressed the table as planned with a damp cloth and sealed it with clear wax. I am really happy with the finished look—even in this lousy cell phone photo.

(I’m sorry, but I ran out of time this week and will have to shoot better photos of both finished projects for you next week.)


* * *

Life Lesson #1:

It’s just a table. It isn’t worth yelling at my awesome little boy and making him cry and feeling like a jerk all afternoon because I was a jerk to my awesome little boy.

It. Just. Isn’t. Worth. It.

Another Life Lesson I have learned along the way is that Life Lessons are great, but applying them to your life the next time a similar situation arises is what’s important.

* * *

Here’s how I applied Life Lesson #1 to my next painting project, this little table I picked up on a treasure hunt on Saturday.


I started by randomly dry-brushing Born on the 4th (my favorite color!) onto the legs and bottom shelf. The tabletop had ring on it from a beverage glass and a few other issues so I applied American Paint Company’s Top Coat mixed with a little bit of a taupe color called Crushed Tea as my first layer to form a barrier between the issues and the rest of my paint job.


The next day I painted over the legs with a watered-down scoop of Crushed Tea. As the legs were drying, I came back and dry brushed Born on the 4th over the tabletop too so the blue would show through the entire table when I distressed it later.

* * *

Here’s where my little helper enters the story again … carrying a paintbrush in one hand and his Lightning McQueen step stool in the other.

“I paint!” Joey declared and smiled that smooshy-faced smile that melts my heart every time.

I was going to say no, but then I said …

OK! I opened the can, he dipped his brush in and went to town.

I helped him. We had a lot of fun.

“More blue!” he said.

OK! I opened a can of turquoise Surfboard and we painted some more. I wasn’t planning on adding turquoise to this mix, but Joey seemed to have a clear artistic vision and I was chilling out and going with the flow this time.

I’m glad I did.

* * *

Painting Lesson #2:

Surfboard and Born on the 4th mix together to make a really pretty blue!

The tabletop looked all crazy. And so did the legs because we got a little carried away, but hey, we were having fun.

Joey painting

Painting Lesson #3:

There is no painting mess that my 2-year-old can make that can’t be fixed with a little water, a little more paint or a little sanding.

(And guess what? There’s no painting mistake that YOU can make that can’t be fixed either!)

Life Lesson #2:

Let your kids help you. Even if they are little. Even if they make a mess and whatever you are doing takes three times longer than if you had just done it yourself.

Overlook the mess and enjoy the moment.

I don’t want Joey to grow up and say, “My Mom used to yell at me all the time whenever I tried to help her paint.”

I want him to grow up and say, “I used to help my mom paint all the time and we always had a lot of fun!”

Life Lesson #3:

Enjoy the moment, but don’t turn your back on the little guy … not even for a second …

IMG_2231 Painting Lesson #4:

American Paint Company paints clean up very nicely with a wet sponge and a little elbow grease!

~ Courtney

P.S.—I didn’t yell when I saw Joey’s mural on the side of my kitchen island. (I didn’t! Really!)

But I did let him help me clean it up. 🙂




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