One morning this week Caroline pulled a piece of sidewalk chalk from the bin in the garage while I hustled them out to the car. Before I could stop her she drew a line on the garage floor. "NO!" Tears. We have reached the place I have been dreading when she fears the consequences of her mistakes and "making Mommy mad." I've been trying to be more invested in how I handle these things, to be sure to point out to her why Mommy is upset and not just focus on what she did. She really values my approval right now. I know it is important to show her there is more than just lectures.

As we rolled down the driveway, I took a deep breath and I knew exactly what to tell her. My mind drifted back to days spent playing with Play Doh in the basement, watching my brother occasionally sample its saltiness, and jumping each time the sump pump kicked on. I relayed the story of her Granda, the painter. His chosen medium was oil paint on canvas. He had plentiful tubes of green and blue for seascapes and he occasionally (and generously) would set me up with a canvas and his paints in the basement. When the canvases were gone, I used paper. When the paper was gone, I used the floor. I know. I told her how I hadn't considered the permanent nature of oil paint and what a mess it was for my parents. I emphasized how sad it made me to have made the wrong choice. There will forever be a stain marking this terrible mistep of my childhood on their basement floor. I reminded her that chalk can be swept away and not at all like that paint. I reminded her that all kids make mistakes and Mommy certainly made her fair share (ie cutting gum from her hair).

I am planning to show her the stain this weekend when we are at Nana and Granda's for Easter. It's a lesson in the permanence some mistakes have and a reminder to think before we do.

1 comment:

  1. But you know what? I bet every time your parents look at that stain now they get tears in their eyes thinking back to their sweet little girl or a chuckle thinking of the day it happened. So your younger self was just thinking ahead right? ;)

    Still, I agree with your present self that it's a good think Caroline chose chalk and not missed a bullet on that one!