For all the time I have spent concocting elaborate plans for summertime entertainment, it appears that, like all convoluted problems, the solution is less complicated then I first surmised. Ostensibly, my children would prefer to engage in plain, creative, FREE pursuits, rather then engage themselves in anything so trite as a second rate animated film festival. Through all of the preceding months of boredom and infighting, a solution floated quietly at the edge of my cerebral radar, eluding me, dancing at the borders of my conscious mind, a broken down thought-car on the berm of my cranium...Paint. The one activity that can send the most sensible and organized mother into a frenzy of panic and despair...PAINT. It's no surprise that the first four letters of that word are P-A-I-N. Had I known that this colorful, viscous substance had the power to mesmerize my offspring for prolonged periods of time, holding them captive, containing their never-ending energy and desire for inane bickering; I would have purchased stock in Sherwin Williams and gone through whatever 12 step program might have helped me come to terms with the potential risk to my clean and "UN-Jackson Pollack" style sense of home decor. Nevertheless, I was out of solutions today, having awakened on this Monday morning with a headache, one that was miserably centered, like a pulsating orb of doom, equipped with the strength of 1000 white-hot suns, behind my right eye. Like the coward I am, I staggered from my lair (also known as my boudoir, when I'm not lumbering forth from it like a constipated yak) and summoned the mental energy required to pour "Froot Loops" into bowls and add milk (They have to spell Froot like that because there is no actual Fruit involved in the production of said cereal.) But I digress... After my healthful breakfast of Excedrin Migraine and Dr. Pepper (At least I managed to consult a Physician...don't judge me.) I stumbled back to my bed, and after applying a heating pad to the right side of my head, which resulted in some highly attractive 1st degree burns, I managed to pull myself together in time to realize that we had missed the free movie. I was scrambling for an excuse that would hold water with my truth-sniffing-mutant-bloodhound children, (to no avail, I might add. The older they get, the harder it is to come up with believable lies on the fly.) Suddenly, through the pass-through into the dining room, my oculus (I use the singular, because my right eye was still slightly suspect at this point,) alighted upon a brand new, pristine roll of white art paper! I was thrilled, as I declared today "Art Appreciation Day." I sent them to their rooms to dress and brush their teeth, (on account of the Froot Loops.) Meanwhile, I raided all of my art supplies for those beautiful, magnificent little squeezee bottles of acrylic paint. By the time they emerged (like little bloodthirsty lions, waiting to pounce on my lack of planning and forethought) I had a homemade art studio set up in the dining room. I was prepared to sacrifice the cleanliness of that room for my dignity, (it was an easy choice, I have precious little dignity, and I wasn't about to give that away, even to avoid having to scrape paint from every conceivable surface...) This discovery made my day, they leapt into action, providing me with enough material to wall-paper my foyer. I made the rounds every few minutes, complimenting in excruciating detail, each and every artistic offering. Noah produced a surprisingly realistic undersea scene, and he worked with great concentration. I was aghast, nary a bick was bickered. Ethan preferred to concentrate his artistic fervor in the area of his current passion, his guitar. Part of me believes that he participated just to humor me, but I'll take it. Aidan, my dear little chap, was the most entertaining of all. He painted, with all of the furor of Pablo Picasso, a lovely impressionist rendering of our chihuahua, Stuart. You can tell that it was Stuart, not by the use of teal, red and royal blue for his legs, but by the bizarre angle of the too-large ears. He also painted a picture of the bass guitar he hopes to one day play, he has dubbed it "Blue Sol." But, my particular favorite was a picture of Jesus walking on the water. Unfortunately, my pride was unfounded, as my interpretation was unceremoniously contradicted by his explanation of his work. Apparently, that was not Jesus walking on the water, it was a Giant Panda looking at a whale and a giant squid, with the intention to fight to the death. Part of me was relieved, because it looked like Jesus had giant Mickey Mouse ears and was severely overweight... Needless to say, "Painting Time" was a smashing success. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves, including Mom. I went with the adage "Always leave them wanting more..." so I enforced clean up in time to have a late lunch. Everyone was so thrilled with their work, the harmony and repletion spilled over into a time of luncheon and reading. It was a good day. I am quite fatigued, it is late, however, after a last lingering persusal of the days artwork I have arrived at a few noteworthy conclusions. First, I will definitely allow painting to become a regular part of our weekly activities. I love the idea that they were able to coexist harmoniously for a short while, and that they used their creative super-powers for good, instead of devising ways of tormenting each other. It was like a tea party between Superman and Lex Luthor and Margaret Thatcher. (I don't know why I used Ms. Thatcher, I had no idea who else appeared in the whole Superman thing, can we just let that slide for today?) Secondly, I found a remarkable similarity between my children's paintings and those rendered by the elephants of Thailand. Apparently, there is a market for such artwork, a thriving community of boobs willing to pay ridiculously large amounts of money for pachyderm paintings. Fortunately, I am lacking basic "Art Scruples," and am not above forging Dumbo's signature.