I had it all worked out. My house would be different.
I eyed my new dinette set. I had carefully chosen the color pattern for the chairs; the greys and blues blended so softly. The texture was right, and it was easy to wipe clean too. The table matched so well, all carefully chosen for my new home.
And I vowed that my house would be different; in my house, kids would not color on the chairs. Or tables. Ever.
I’d make sure!
Baby number one arrives. All pens, markers and writing utensils are hidden, stowed in high cabinets. He turns one years old. I smile smugly. See, the chairs are still clean!
No pen is ever left in sight.
Little sister arrives. Then little brother. I’m smiling smugly. My table and chairs are still scribble free!
Little brother. Little brother. The house is filling up. So are the toy bins. And markers and pens are nowhere to be seen.
I’m chatting with one of my friends. Her kids love to draw. And I stop and think. Do my kids love to draw?
Yeah, of course.
Um, I think so.
Well, I don’t really know, because… well because every pen and marker is out of sight!
And suddenly my plans don’t sit so well. My house can be different. At the price of depriving my kids from their creativity.
Or my house can be the same. At the price of my kids experiencing the joys of coloring. And accepting that they will scribble on my table and chairs.
I take down a few markers. The light colored ones. A few papers. I carefully watch as they color and quickly collect the markers after. The table and chairs are still scribble free.
I have a small coloring table. That’s where we color.
But who am I fooling. They need to color. They want to draw. They need more space.
And I can’t get anything done, because I am busy playing policeman to the markers!
And I break my promise.
I buy a 100+ marker set. All sizes and colors. I buy a case of construction paper. I designate a drawer in my kitchen for colored paper, and I refill it constantly. My dinette table is drawing headquarters.
And they draw. And draw. To their hearts’ content.
They draw pictures of me. They draw pictures of my husband. They draw pictures of their siblings. They draw pictures of places we went and people we met. They draw things I can’t identify.
I get a glimpse into their little minds. Into how they view what goes on in our house. How they view me. How they view each other.
They play Hangman and Tic Tac Toe. They make word searches and mazes.
The table is always full of construction paper. The floor is scattered with markers.
And this morning, as my three year old carefully explains to me every detail of his picture that looks to me like a line with two dots, I have no regrets.
And my carefully selected dinette chairs? Well, they have some markings.
And my table? It has seen many scribbles. Some come off, some don’t.
And even the walls have seen a scribble or two. Or three.
My house is not different after all.
But I learned my lesson. Kids can’t thrive if they are not given the opportunity.
It was well worth the price.