Youngest daughter wants to paint her room.  It used to be her big sister’s room.  Her big sister had painted it Post-It Note Yellow, and a couple of years later she got married and moved out. The reaction on the part of youngest daughter was as follows:

Youngest daughter wants to paint her room.  It used to be her big sister’s room.  Her big sister had painted it Post-It Note Yellow, and a couple of years later she got married and moved out. The reaction on the part of youngest daughter was as follows:

“Oh, I will miss you so much; Dad, can I have her room.”

Youngest daughter, to be fair, has wanted to repaint the room from the beginning, but yours truly has refused. This is part of a overall strategy on my part known as the delay game. You delay, defer and derail until there is absolutely no choice, and then you yield only when all of the child has lost all of the joy and enthusiasm initially associated with the project.

It’s the way we parents get our kicks.

I have relented, as I have extracted all of the pleasure I can from the delay. I will now go into the painting phase using another means we parents have of killing pleasure: I am going to make this a learning opportunity.

As you may know, I come from simple folk. When we painted, we painted. This is to say that we got a bucket of paint and a brush and threw paint up on the wall. This is not the same as throwing-up paint on the wall, but the effect is quite similar.

Painting was a chore that Dad hated. The only time I ever saw him paint inside was after a visit to the dentist. The dentist, it seems, had given him a powerful pain killer. Dad came home, having stopped and bought painting accoutrements on the way home. He painted until the meds wore off and his hand began to shake, whereupon he threw the pain meds into the chicken pen.

So for the longest time, I associated painting with the need for controlled substances. This was until I was taught how to paint. Imagine now, the voice of Julie Andrews singing in the background, “Every job that must be done has an element of fun...”

It’s all about having a plan. You don’t just throw paint on the wall or it looks like a task that has no end. You have to have a plan. As Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

The first step takes place before you go to the paint store. You figure out the surface area of the walls involved so as to know how much paint you need to buy. Then you go and get the paint, the brushes, the drop cloths, and the masking tape. The masking tape is essential because you use it to tape around the trim.

After you have the trim taped, then you paint around the edges of the wall so as to form a frame around it. This is the part that is called painting-in. I’ve heard people say that they hate painting because they hate painting-in, but it is painting-in that makes the process work. After you paint-in, all you need to do then is to use the roller.  If you don’t have to put on a second coat, then all that is left is the clean up.

At the end of this, she will have a painted room, but we will also have put another coat of planning on her. A person who plans is further along the way than the same person who doesn’t. This is whether it’s painting, retirement or work.

Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University.  He blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com.