Thursday, November 17, 2011

The vandals.

It seems like anytime there is an illustration of children being naughty, four out of five times it will depict said naughty child drawing on the wall.  The child has maliciously scribbled all over the hallways, thus prompting the mother to deliver a stern spanking and a bucket of sudsy water for the child to erase his or her terrible offense.  Whether or not this is true of most households, I don't know, but it is true of ours.  Of course they know that drawing on the walls is not permitted, and yet, I find myself filling up the proverbial sudsy bucket more frequently than I would like to.  You see, the blonde has an affinity for writing and illustrating.  She draws wonderful pictures of herself and her sisters going down curly slides, picking flowers from a meadow, and often she'll add a few "words" to describe the scene at hand.  It is glorious.  Especially because I was the same way.  I loved to draw and write little stories, so naturally, I see her interest and both relate to and appreciate and encourage it.  However, she also has an affinity for secrecy.  And vandalism.  Recently, as I was preparing a fabulous meal for my family, I went to open the pantry door and noticed a peculiar marking on the door.  Upon closer inspection, I found it to be a tiny, pencil drawn heart and the letter "A".  Seeing as the blonde is the only child in our house who knows how to maneuver a pencil delicately enough to draw a microscopic picture, I approached her about it.  "Did you write a little 'A' and a heart on the pantry door?"  She contemplates, perhaps trying to remember, "Yes."  I make the disappointed mother face, but not so much to emotionally wound her and gently remind "Well, do you know that we are not supposed to write on anything except for coloring paper?"  She appears remorseful, and replies "Yes, I'm sorry."  This is going well.  I tell the blonde that since she has done something naughty, she must take responsibility and clean it up, and so she scrubs without complaint, and the tiny scribble is erased.  I feel a bit of satisfaction over the success of this disciplinary interaction.  Well done!  As I continue cooking and going about the house, I notice another tiny mark.  And another, and another.  Only these are in pink marker, and slightly more elaborate than the "A" and heart on the pantry door.  There are actual tiny people, and names, and other shapes on every door in the house.  Granted, they are small drawings, but tiny things have a tendency to get bigger when left unaddressed.  I call the blonde, and coyly ask if she had happened to draw any other little pictures similar to the one on the pantry door.  She silently shakes her head yes, and proceeds to point them out to me, including a few I had missed along baseboards and under counter tops (when was all of this happening?).  Slightly agitated at the prolific nature of her secret taggings, I again remind the blonde that drawing and writing must only be done on appropriate surfaces, such as paper and only paper.  She again scrubs without a fight, and the house is restored to original graffiti-free splendor.  Over the next few weeks, I periodically come across a fresh offense, and reprimand the blonde accordingly, this time elaborating that the rules are the same as they had been the first time she got in trouble for drawing on the walls.  As irritating as it is, I am glad that it is only tiny marks and scribbles, and that it cleans fairly easily.  But of course, it is never that easy.  The blonde asks me today, "Is it ok to draw a smiley face on the lamp shade?"  Um, what?  "No it's not ok.  Did you already do it?"  She smiles, and stands awkwardly with her hand "resting" on the lamp shade.  Out comes the sudsy bucket.

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