Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Color Red

My daughter has been on a coloring spree lately. For the past several weeks, she will sit with a coloring book and color in it for an hour. Cute, and quiet to boot. Unfortunately she has taken the love of her crayon to realms beyond her coloring pages. I am finding the markings everywhere...on the top of the staircase, on the car door, on furniture.
Today we were at a library story time and I saw her lift her coloring page up and begin to purposely color the table underneath the paper.
Very calmly I began, "Sammi, we only color paper. Please put your crayons away. We have to leave now." Of course my request was met by protest and eventually tears. As I walked my screaming child out of the library, I felt my self-control begin to slip. "Sammi, quit fussing," I firmly stated. "Sammi, you need to stop fussing now," I threatened about thirty seconds later. Ten seconds later I yelled, "Samantha!" (Big tears and loud screams now.)
I decided to switch tactics. I sat Sam down in her chair and told her, "Samantha, I need you to take a deep breath and calm down before we walk back home." (I had decided today would be a good day to walk to the library...about 1 mile from the house. I was kinda wishing I had driven us there instead at this point.) I asked her to calm down again and this time modeled the deep breaths for her, but to no avail; her crocodile tears and wails were even bigger.
In an instant, I switched back to my fear tactic. Tugging her up to her feet by the arm I shouted, "Come on, crybaby. Let's go." A few steps later a statement came out of my mouth I swore I would never use on my own children, "Quit crying or I will give you a reason to cry!"
Thankfully, a quarter mile into our return home the tears had ceased. I began speaking calmly to her (I felt pretty rotten at this point.) I asked quietly, "Sammi, do you know why Mommy was mad?" "Yes," she answered, "because I wouldn't stop crying." "No, Baby. It was because you colored on something that wasn't paper."
But even as I corrected her I knew she had the answer right the first time. I had an opportunity to teach her a lesson and I didn't. I had the opportunity to react to her behavior patiently and I instead responded in anger.
All it took to get the crayon off the stairway and the car door was a bit of Windex and about 2 minutes worth of scrubbing. I wonder how much scrubbing it will take to wash away my mistake...


  1. you're doing just fine. Magic Eraser--stock up now. They get crayon off of everything.

  2. Hey Liz! I don't have kiddos yet, but I think you handled the situation great. I truly appreciate your honestly.

  3. I'm late on this one but couldn't resist. A little girl I know went through a Van Gogh 'blue' period with the marker on our white wicker (and vinyl?) laundry hamper...never really came out. And different tactics work better on different kids...on different days. So it's truly trial & error. Love YOU!