Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What's a mom to do?

This is an actual dilemma for me, at the moment, though it's not keeping me up at night or anything. Opinions from one and all, welcome.


The Goober is big on art supplies and coloring. I think I've got 2/3 of the stuff made by Crayola. One of the things we've got is their easel. So the rule in the house is, any crayons stay at the easel. Either they are in her hand, being used on paper, or they go in the front of the easel, in the little tray. After the first couple weeks, with a few episodes of her running around with a crayon and me taking them away for a day or two, she's been very good. There was one swipe of green on the couch (right next to the easel) that may well have been an accident, and otherwise, all coloring has happened on the easel (nearly all of it on the paper) and the crayons have stayed just where they're supposed to.

However. She's three, and she's smart, and she's the Goober.

When she spots a pad of paper with a pencil on it, she'll pick up the pencil and do a bit of post-impression artwork on the paper. Yesterday I gave her some paper (directions from something I'd bought - she likes to pretend they're maps) and she took the paper over to the easel and colored on it.

Now, this isn't quite what the rules are - she's supposed to be only using the crayons on the paper I put on the easel, and that's it. But I keep thinking, she's using the pencils ON THE PAPER. And she's taking the paper TO THE EASEL to color on it. Nothing on the walls, on the floor, nothing. This morning she got up early, got hold of a marker, and got it open. So what did she do? Took it to the easel and colored on it. When I got up I about had a stroke and told her she's never to open markers by herself. But again. She went straight to the easel with it, and stayed there.

I can't find it in me to do more than grumble at her about leaving pencils and things alone. There's been no dramatic punishment, because the walls and furniture are intact and she's KIND OF following the rules.

Should I try to reason with her? Or forget it altogether? It also occurs to me that 'kind of following the rules' is likely as good as I'll get with a three year old kid. Maybe it's me who needs reasoned with.


And I'm on round 203 of 206, of the shawl. Eeeee!

22 comments:

historicstitcher said...

Tough call there. You just can't reason with a three year old and expect them to get it. Not yet.

So decide if she's following enough of the rules - it's on paper, at the easel, etc. But she's not respecting YOUR pencils and markers? You could try to explain that they are yours and she is not to touch them, and accept what she is doing right as enough.

Or you can pull your hair out because you made more rules than she can keep in her head at once.

btw: I heard that it takes 2 YESes for a child to learn, but 200 NOs to learn NOT to do something.

David said...

Duct tape and NyQuil...

walterknitty said...

I dont have any kids, with that in mind, here's what I think: It seems like she's following the spirit of the rules you set down. She took the paper to her easel to draw on it and she took the marker to her easel to use it. She's not colouring on the walls or furniture which is the most important thing (to me at least, but I dont have any kids). The fact that she's 3 and following the rules in spirit seems like a lot to get from such a young kid.

It could be a lot worse, you could wake up in the morning to find post-impressionistic art all over the walls and the cat.

Julie said...

Yeah, I do know that she processes information best when she's calmly told things instead of yelled at. (Go figure - she's like the rest of us!) This morning's marker incident, I just sighed and said 'You're not supposed to open up markers. Don't use them unless mum or dad open them for you, okay?" and she sighed and said "Okay."

Which is about the best you ever get from her, but I think odds are better for her remembering this later. If I'd yelled, she'd remember the yelling, but not WHY.

And for those of you wondering who David is, he's a good friend of mine who has listened to me mutter about duct tape before. Haha.

Candied Fabrics said...

Man, if she's using the stuff on the easel...I'd get her her OWN set of pencils and washable markers and tell that she should use her OWN tools only on her own easel.

As a sewer, I'm freaky about people using the good scissors on stuff they shouldn't so we have PLENTY of kid type scissors in places that are more accessible, and I've never had people use my Gingers improperly.

Michelle said...

I'd let her continue to work at the easel although she is not using crayons. I would however tell her that not all paper is up for grabs-some things are important.

Barbara said...

While I like David's suggestion and considered it myself at times in the past, I think you're darned lucky to have such a smart kid. She's using tools in the correct location and purpose. Maybe you and Dad need to start picking things up that she's not allowed to have? Not that I believe in sterilizing a place for kids, but if they're out of sight they might be out of mind. I think you need to take a deep breath and give thanks for a bright smart little Goob who is trying her darndest to do what's right. Good job, Mom!

amy said...

I'd relax, but then, I do have some walls that have been drawn on, not by the first but by the second. I also think paper only on the easel is kind of tough--does she have any tables she can draw at? If you don't want her to use markers, don't leave any lying around. ;) Or you could try getting her her own set. Personally, I'm not a fan of markers for kids. I like good crayons and paints. Because if we're going to use messy stuff, I'd rather it be paints, which blend and do cool things, than markers, which just stain their skin and go right through the paper. But you didn't ask that...

oh, and if I leave my grocery list within reach of the 4yo, I'm bound to find it scribbled on. He just can't help it. He's also the one who drew on the walls and occasionally in books. It's hardwired in, apparently, because the oldest never did that. Still working on "you can draw on paper, your OWN paper, not the floor, not the book, not Vaughan's paper..."

Valerie said...

My advice in four words:

Choose your battles carefully.

One other piece of advice....better get rid of permanent markers. Everything else comes out one way or another.

Donna Lee said...

I think the only thing to do is to keep your markers out of her reach (I know, easier said than done) and remind her that they are YOURS and make it a property issue and not necessarily an art issue. She is using them correctly and in the correct place so it's hard to fault her for that. And I agree, choose your battles.

Alwen said...

Yeah, that's a toughie.

Looking back on some of our wall art incidents, I'd say having her trained to head to the easel is a pretty major accomplishment!

Amy Lane said...

I think she's just like you. She gets the rules, she gets what they're for, and she'll follow them to the extent that they do what they're supposed to.

I say, you change the rule. All ART SUPPLIES must stay at the easel. Don't make it a big deal--don't make it so she has to break a rule to follow her (prodigious and apparently inherited) common sense.

Emily said...

She could be a lawyer-in-training, like mine, who followed the rules EXACTLY, noting carefully where the loopholes were. And scribbled on the walls once when I thought they were well past the age!

I think you've done very well so far, tho' I'd recommend washable markers. I know they're not as good, but....sigh. Children have astonishing lapses of judgement sometimes, even unto adolescence. Certain things here at Grandma's house are only used with supervision & they're not out on view. Be grateful for such a clever & thoughtful child! (And I like the duct tape comment; I always wished mine came with on/off buttons.)

Deana said...

Out of all the responsies, I'm with Donna Lee on this one. Let Princess Goob know they're YOUR markers "These are grown up markers, honey" and get her a set of those Crayola markers that only mark on the special paper made for them... or some other washable Crayola marker. Let her go to town on 'em!

And agreed- choose your battles wisely. You know she's a smart Goob and will test her boundaries any way she can...

(todays word: essess- slang for "access")

Leonie said...

We had no problems with no.1 but no.2 puts everything in his mouth so there are no crayons or textas (markers) in use in our house (one got chewed on, the other sucked-how much ink do they put in those things?) that pretty much leaves us with pencils and then paints under supervision. Letting the Goob know that these are mummy's and these are yours for your art should work pretty well. We have a cup on the bench with pens, textas, permanent markers and the kids know they either ask or die (figuratively, not literally!) You have one clever kid there who is "checking" the boundaries, be thankful you don't have three she says smiling wryly!

Valerie said...

I had a second thought after posting earlier. If it's an upright easel, they aren't exactly the easiest thing to write on. One has to stand and that doesn't provide a stable base for the finer movements of the hand.

Perhaps when she wants to "write" her very own desk top would be in order?

Anonymous said...

To all, the markers were Goobies dry erase Crayola markers. I'm not too worried about it. She is really good about where she can use them and on what.
Husbeast

Bells said...

I have no other comment to add except that I think it's cool the Husbeast posted!

Louiz said...

Kathryn draws on herself, given any opportunity she will take a felt tip pen and scribble all over her legs, feet, tummy, hands, arms face... about the only bit that doesn't get drawn on is her back, and I think that's because she can't reach. She just loves to decorate her skin, and there doesn't seem to be anything I can do to stop her (other than throwing away the felt tips, which doesn't really help much as then other people buy her more, and they have them at nursery).

Other than that, she's always got the rules about draw on paper, if it's not blank check with mummy or daddy first. I think if the rules stay the same or when they change, change once and stay changed (i.e. not changing with the wind) and its explained to them kids get it just the same as anyone else (although they might forget in the excitement of learning a new skill!)

Anonymous said...

Reason with her. She's smart, she'll get it. My son is now 11 & the one thing I'll always remember being told by his daycare is that children are underestimated. Clear rules, clearly stated, and consistently enforced seems to work well. The trick is the clear rules as my son excelled at finding any point of ambiguity and the consistent enforcement as he remembered any time I didn't enforce a rule & would discuss this endlessly. The smarter the child is the clearer & more consistent you need to be. Since they had all the kids taking naps on mats without getting up by 15 months & pouring their own beverages by 2 years they seemed to have a point. And as this was a very liberal daycare with no physical discipline or emotional berating, just calm explanations, it wasn't from the fear of consequences. Although personally I might want to be yelled at rather than listen to another discussion of why you can't touch another child without their permission & what constituted permission, it worked amazing well.

Galad said...

There is a lot of wisdom and experience already here. Reading the blog I was impressed with good the Goob is being about using her easel.

I'm with the people that said:
a. Pick your battles
b. State the rules for respecting YOUR pencils, paper etc.
c. Expand her art supplies a little and change the rule to all art supplies at the easel.

Good luck!

Clueless Chicks said...

You're doing fine.
You're flexible and so is she.
Just in case though, keep a can of WD-40 on hand. It takes crayon off painted walls and tile.
Aloha