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A couple of months ago, Henry and I had a heart-to-heart about his penchant for scribbling on the walls (scribbling is my term – he would call it “dwawing” as in “Thee Mommy! Wook at my dwawing!”).
My attempts to suppress his creative impulses backfired. Instead, he appears to have experienced an artistic breakthrough. Today, I found this strategically mounted on the underside of the loft in his bedroom where it could not be seen from the doorway:
His composition is pretty good, don’t you think?
I was more than irritated when I discovered another scribbled-upon wall. Liam was ensconced safely at camp; Nora has never drawn on anything but paper. That left but one suspect.
“Henry! Please come in here!”
“What’s going on?” asked my husband, wandering in from the kitchen. I said nothing. He followed my gaze to the wall and then snorted in disbelief.
“I’m gonna kill him,” I whispered.
Henry bounced into the room. He looked from me to the wall to Brendan. “Nah-uh, Mommy.” He smiled, confident in his knowledge that I would never, could never, hurt him. “’Cuz of God,” he said solemnly.
I turned away to smother a disrespectful smirk. Fixing my frown, I leaned over him. “Do you know why Mommy is not happy?”
“’Cuz you uthin’ dat voice.”
Sighing, I pointed to the wall.
“Oh!” He jumped in front of his latest masterpiece with his arms extended—trying to block my view. “Oh, dat! Thorry, Mommy.”
I explained to Henry why it was not okay to write on walls. I reminded him that we had had this conversation before and firmly informed him that I did not want to have it again.
He looked down at the floor and shuffled his feet. He was obviously feeling guilty. Just as my attitude started to soften, a paradigm shift. His eyes blazed with the Greatness of his idea. “It not me! Piggy did it!” He thrust the purported offender forward.
I was at a loss. This was a new one.
“Well…,” I stalled, casting around for the right response. Was I going to have to lecture him about lying? Was this the time to analyze the differences between what is real vs. pretending something is real? “Well…,” and then it came to me. “YOU [and I prodded his chest for emphasis] are responsible for Piggy. You know that you are not allowed to write on the wall. And SO, you should not let Piggy write on the wall either.” I paused, pleased with myself for having out-argued a three-year-old. “Now, you and Piggy need to clean up your mess.”
He nodded at me. “OK, Mommy.”
Later, I was gulping a glass of wine and reviewing the tapes inside my head. Even though Henry had tried to blame his alter-ego, ultimately, he had admitted his misconduct, expressed remorse, and received an appropriate consequence. He was learning to accept personal responsibility.
Brendan touched my shoulder. “Honey? Did you happen to notice the ‘pictures’ Henry drew on the tan chair?”