“Mommy, would you like to play restaurant with me?”
“I would love to,” I replied.
“O.K., I’ll go get it ready!” Emmalynn excitedly exclaimed as she ran off to prepare for my arrival. Clanging metal pans and dishes crashed to the playroom floor which was accompanied by the banging of hollow plastic play food as Emmalynn served a symphony of sweets for her patron.
While she prepared her restaurant, I quickly checked my e-mail, which in hindsight may not have been my brightest parenting moment.
As I read through my e-mails, I heard Emmalynn scamper down the hallway into the bathroom which was followed by a faucet at full blast. Then, she ran back down the hall.
Secretly, I had hoped she didn’t fill her teapot with water. I dreaded drinking water from a dirty, grubby tea set. As I curiously peeked around the corner, I discovered Emmalynn washing the wall with a soaked washcloth.
“Emmalynn, what are you doing?”
“I wanted to make a sign for my restaurant, but I made a mistake. I ran out of room for the letters in my name and I wanted to erase it and start over.”
Then, I noticed very large purple (her favorite color) letters written on the wall and wondered what the appropriate response to this creative situation would be.
“Yes, I see that you ran out of room, because you made your letters too big, but a wet washcloth will not wash crayon off the wall. But more importantly, when you want to make a sign, you use paper. You know that. We write on paper, not walls. And the good thing about using paper for a sign is you can tape it anywhere you want, like above the table or by the door so everyone can see it when they enter your restaurant.”
“Oh yeah”, she replied as a light bulb went off in her head and then it quickly shined on a subject that mattered more to her. “My restaurant is ready, Mommy.”
With her direction, I sat down and enjoyed a delicious plateful of plastic cookies, strawberries and a cupcake.
Although Emmalynn has a reputation for doodling on walls and leaving a path of destruction everywhere she goes, it was really difficult for me to get angry with her this time. Writing on walls is a rite of passage and a phase many children go through. Unfortunately, Emmalynn has not left this stage yet, but it’s all right. We’ll simply store stockpiles of Magic Erasers in every room of the house until she’s finished with this phase.
Hopefully, some time before she starts kindergarten.