I can’t tell you how many, many, many times I have told Rory not to write on anything with markers other than paper. Not furniture. Not the car. Not her face. Not her brother. Not Sam’s toys. Not her own toys, although I’m a little more tolerant of that. NOT ANYTHING.
I have even hauled her around the house pointing at things. Don’t write on the. Don’t write on that. Is this something you write on? No. There has been yelling, there has been sobbing. And yes, I have taken the markers away–but I’m sorry, her older brother and sister need markers sometimes. I need markers sometimes. And she’s five. I should not need to gather and lock up every marker in the house. And yes, they’re washable markers–but some things still don’t wash.
But two days ago it was her sheets. And today it was two barstools. I’m not actually sure when she did either of those last two, and I’m certain–well, reasonably certain–that she didn’t do the barstools today.
I didn’t lose my temper. I’ve made a new vow, one that’s hard to stick to, not to really hold anything the kids do after 7 pm against them–or, more accurately, not to let myself react after 7 pm. Because I’m tired, and tired of them, and ready for bed for all of us, and I have no sense of proportion at that point.
We went upstairs (they’re upstairs at a play counter, old furniture we moved upstairs from our last house) and tried to clean it off together (in the future I am thinking magic sponge). No dice. I told her this had to stop. I said that if I found one more thing she’d written on with a marker that wasn’t paper, I would “take away all her starchips.” She agreed. Not only that, but she admitted she’d done this (there was no doubt–she wrote her name: “Royr”). She said she was sorry.
And then we got on with it. I’m not sure who was more relieved that there didn’t have to be a scene.
But why, why, why does she DO THIS? She’s not my only kid to write on things with markers. Wyatt, memorably, wrote on the back of the sofa. Lily and Sam have “markered” too. But Rory is the only one who has consistently, repeatedly disregarded this rule, and I just don’t get it. It’s all of a piece with the other stuff that seems obvious to me that she just can’t remember: Don’t stand on the drawer handles, don’t climb up the bookcase, no eating anywhere except at the table or the counter. Not once not ever. There’s been no inconsistency with those rules (unlike, say, the one about lying on the coffee table, which makes Rob crazy but doesn’t really bother me–it’s not like we put coffee table books or tchotchkes on it, so who cares?) And what we notice is that they’re all about things–she can’t remember rules that have to do with keeping stuff nice. (We’re not fanatics about this-honestly, if you stand on the drawer handles they break off, taking a chunk of drawer with them.) Hell, not nice, just–clean. Stable. Safe. It’s like she thinks she lives in a big, washable preschool. Which, I suspect, may have been pretty much true.