Monday, April 9, 2012

on purpose

I came home from running an errand and my eyes flashed to a white wall with orange crayon squiggled on it.  And while I said, "Who did this" there was no real upset to my voice.  I mean, we have a 2 year old.  Well, she's almost 3 and I guess I thought she was done writing on the walls.  And the carpets and the couch and the table and her toys and the windows.  I mean, we're pretty laid back about it because it somehow became okay.  Not acceptable but okay.  No real harm done.

But I took a closer look at this orange line and noticed that there was a circle, then a squiggly line, and then an X.  This was a treasure map and that is far too conceptual for Luna to scribble on the wall.  Tulip stepped forth and admitted to it.

Tulip did this!

It was so surprising.  I kind of laughed, you know, that surprised type of laugh.  It has been years since she has written on a wall.

Here's the thing about Tulip - this was so unlike her.  There's nothing troubling her.  She's not destructive.  She's not acting out in any way.  She doesn't seem to be enacting any sort of outrageous attention-seeking behaviors.  She does not make mistakes like this.  I think she honestly was so inspired to make a treasure map and the wall and orange crayon filled her desire.  But it was a mistake so we had to remind her of that and she was so so remorseful.  Big round eyes and a very sincere, "I'm sorry."  Yes, no big deal.

I was ready to drop it.  Crayon on the wall.  No Big Deal.  But there was an opportunity there.  It sprang from my lips.  I called the children to me for a family meeting and I explained:

When Mama has to clean extra messes, I am putting extra time and extra energy to cleaning messes instead of playing with you guys, or doing something I like to do.  (I was on a roll)  Look around the room.  See all the toys all over the place.  I'm going to pick up all this stuff and put away all this stuff and do all these extra chores and that will take away my time to be with you and play with you and read books to you.  (I was really on a roll now)  So when our house gets messy, and there are extra chores for Mama to do, we are all going to stop playing.  When Mama has to do extra chores, everyone is going to pause their activities and do chores too.  Then we can all play together when we're done.

I'm telling you, it made sense to everyone.  Especially me.  Especially them.  How many times do they ask me to do something and I tell them, "In a minute."  How many times am I on my way to a room where one of my kids is waiting for me because I promised to play and I have to make 4 pit stops along the way to clean up something, pick up something and put away something?  I mean, I know that's never going to change but it can diminish.

No one was in trouble, though in their childhood innocent hearts they knew it was a mistake.  And what happens when we make a mistake?  We admit we made a mistake and we make it right.  Tulip and Wolfie hustled and hustled to help clean up the place.  I didn't have to ask twice.  I hardly had to offer direction, they were all over the place finding things to put away.

So, while Tulip certainly didn't do it on purpose, there ended up being a purpose to her orange treasure map.


  1. LOVE it. I wish I would have thought of this when Noah drew a treasure map... from the upstairs allllllll the way downstairs to the living room! :)


  2. We have a wall in the upstairs hallway (where only we go) that has white board paint and chalkboard paint on it. Every night, I get to walk my boys down to their room for bed and listen to them tell me about the awesome things they created on "their" wall.

    And since we've done this, I've never had to clean crap off of a wall. Soooooo worth it. (Although now, my 7yo part boy/part spider has decided I need to extend the white board farther up the wall so he can create skyscrapers and larger attack plans and pirate ships and... well, you get the picture!)