Mother and child, working together in harmony

I’m sick today. I’ve actually had this cold for over two weeks, but haven’t wanted to reschedule the many appointments on our calendar, so I’ve been pushing through. (I haven’t been able to muster a good attitude about pushing through, but I’ve set my jaw and borne it.) Today my cold had gotten bad enough (my whole head and neck aching and throbbing) that I simply had to rest. This morning I put Hazel in her swing and turned on the T.V. for Rose and Henry, crossing my fingers that they wouldn’t wreak too much havoc while I went back to bed.

When I got up there were fresh crayon marks all over the kitchen counter, and Henry showed me crayon wrappers he was wearing on his fingers like puppets.

When they were little, Mabel and Isaac very rarely drew on walls, but they were better supervised than Rose and Henry, and my home was more child-proofed. Now my older kids leave markers, crayons, pens, and pencils all over, and both Rose and Henry, but especially Henry, like to try them out on every available surface. When I catch Henry in the act, he looks up at me with his doe eyes, says, “Sowwee, Mommy. I kidding,” — and goes back to scribbling on my couch with a ball point pen.

So, seeing Henry with his crayon-wrapper puppets, I had visions of crayon all over the new paint in what will be the girls’ new bedroom, and asked, “Where did you draw?” He was naive enough to answer me: “Rosie’s room.” (My good luck: that’s the girls’ old bedroom, which has already suffered an onslaught of wall-drawing.) Following him in, I saw a large pencil scribble on one wall, and the white-painted window seat elaborately decorated in pencil and various colors of crayon.

I spanked him. In nearly 12 years of parenting, it was my first deliberate act of spanking — one swift, firm slap to his diaper-cushioned behind, accompanied by a repeat of the edict, “WE DO NOT DRAW ON WALLS. ONLY ON PAPER.” Then I put him in his crib for a time-out while I went to get a Magic Eraser sponge.

The swat to his behind made him cry, but the time-out just made him mad. He even figured out how to get out of his crib, (since the furniture in there is all pushed into the center of the room right now, creating new escape options.) I put him back in for a couple more minutes.

Then I had him use the Magic Eraser to clean the window seat and wall. It turns out that an almost-three-year-old capable of elaborate wall drawings is also capable of cleaning them off with the right tool. He cleaned most of the windowsill on his own, and, when he wanted to give up on the wall and have me do it, I told him “Scrub up and down like this,” and he happily took my advice. While he next scrubbed the kitchen counter, he sang, “Uppidown, uppidown.” I’m afraid he was having way too much fun.

This story has a few morals:

1. Never underestimate the amount of damage that can be accomplished by a bored and lonely toddler. (Corollary 1A. Never be sick when you’re a mom.)
2. If you’re not taking the time to teach your toddler how to work, he’ll create those opportunities for you.
3. It’s too bad Magic Erasers can’t get ball point pen off of fabric-upholstered couches.

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This entry was posted in My kids actually are funny (and sweet and wonderful), Parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Mother and child, working together in harmony

  1. Danielle says:

    Lucky for me, Maddy got a hold of a pen when she was in her father’s care (ahem) and wrote all over our couch. My sister-in-law told me about this magical stuff you can buy @ Wal-Mart or Home Depot even that really works. I haven’t gone to buy it yet, but if I do, and it works, I will let you know.

    Oh, and yeah, moms should never get sick. Too bad I’ve been sick every 8 weeks since having my child. I blame her poor sleeping habits. 😦

  2. Kristina says:

    That’s amazing you’ve only had one spanking incident!

    And Magic Eraser truly is a magic product.

  3. zstitches says:

    Danielle, I’d love to know if it works.

    Kristina, it’s not that I haven’t been mad(der) before — I just thought maybe a swat would get Henry’s attention when other things seemed not to.

  4. Deborah Gibbons says:

    We were invited to a friends cabin over spring break. There were several young children having a great time together, and the adults were playing games at the kitchen table. An older child announced that there was red marker all over the place. Sure enough, a not quite two year old had found a red sharpie (who knows why it was lying around, and we think she had help), and she had colored the white carpet on the stairs, the natural wood still visible on the sides of the carpet on the stairs, all over the white wall and carpet on the upper level, and, the best yet, all over the two white couches in the loft upstairs. I think the lesson learned is that this child has artistic tendencies and should be put in art classes at the earliest possible time!

  5. Melanie J says:

    Baby G is at a point where he’d rather draw on paper, but if there’s none around, a wall will do just fine. Yesterday it was a pencil rendering of the origins of the universe on the outside of the guest bathroom door. I mean, that’s what it looked like to me, anyway.

  6. marymary says:

    Begin countdown to the first commenter to make a joke about swine flu . . .

  7. marymary says:

    (I’ve been feeling for a couple of days like I was maybe about to come down with something myself, but I haven’t said anything to anyone out loud about it yet because I know in my heart that if I do, _someone’s_ going to offer up the possibility that I’ve contracted swine flu, and I can’t handle the ridiculousness of that scenario.)

  8. Mrs. Organic says:

    I think if a mom’s going to suffer any kind of flu it’s more likely to be Whine Flu – considering the occupational hazards and all.

    My oldest daughter colored in her window sill (and I mean every last square centimeter of it) TWICE. Once with pencil-she used a whole box of 24, and the second with crayon – all colors. I wish magic erasers had been invented then. And that I’d been brilliant enough to make her clean it up with one if they had.

  9. zstitches says:

    I was thinking this post might draw some great stories, but that cabin one, Debbie, is beyond my imaginings. Wow. I try to keep all permanent markers out of reach, but I should realize that Henry’s the type who will find a way to get to them someday.

    And I agree that this is most likely Whine Flu, and if not I’ve made it so by how I talk when I tell Dean about it. It got me out of helping with dinner tonight . . (well okay I helped a little and then worked on the Leaning Tower of Papers on my desk.)

  10. zstitches says:

    Oh, and Melanie, I did find a couple papers he’d started drawing on before he went seeking more expansive canvases.

  11. Jen says:

    I wish #3 were true. It seems like anything will come out if you get it off while it’s still fresh, but children are so wily about doing it while you’re not paying attention!

    Hope you are feeling better soon.

  12. Virginia Wood says:

    You have FIVE children and haven’t figured out that the only appropriate colors for carpet, curtains and especially upholstery is black, dark blue or maroon? In my heart I know that the maroon industrial carpeting in my basement is really dirty, but except for the swatches of splotches made by an unattended box of laundry detergetnt with bleach and a two year old it has survived hundreds of kids and teenagers!

    I would NEVER in my life rent or visit a cabin with white carpet and upholstery. I think it should be on the application form! (Please check this box if you have children or adults who can’t resist marking or putting their feet on white surfaces.)

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