I had had this particular foster child for about 4 months. She was struggling in school; acting up almost constantly. So when I walked into the school to pick her up one afternoon and saw a bright red crayon mark on the pure white hallway walls of the school- I pled that it was not my child. The mark began at the gym near the front doors. This was on the entire opposite side of the elementary school from her classroom. But, the crayon mark continued. Down the hallway. With each step I took my heart dropped- hoping desperately that it wouldn’t lead directly into the hand of my fawn.
And yet… the mark continued. And I continued walking, watching as the bright red line drew across every single wall, skipping over doorways, and scribbling consciously around posters as it went. And at the last turn, where I found my child’s classroom, at the very absolute opposite edge of the school- the mark ended. Heading directly into the room itself. And there, atop my child’s desk- sat a half used bright red crayon. My eyes darted up to her, sitting stout and proudly that SHE had just added such an artistic piece to the school’s interior décor.
Before I had a chance to question her one of the students yelled out, “Your kid drew with crayon all the way across the school!”
“I did!” she laughed back.
The teacher, clearly dismayed by the behavior and completely exhausted with my child’s endless shenanigans, looked to me for some kind of disciplining relief. I had had the longest day at work. I was exhausted, and mad, and the very last thing I wanted to deal with was a 100 yard crayon mark.
“Well, I guess we’re not going watching a movie tonight,” I said (cringing at the idea).
My child’s smile quickly faded. “Why not?” she asked, pleadingly.
“Because we need to spend the evening cleaning up a crayon mark,” I huffed. I, too, had been looking forward to movie night. After a long week of work, all I truly wanted to do was eat a ridiculous amount of popcorn and not think for an hour and thirty minutes. But, that particular day I was learning a hard lesson in parenting. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our own comfort to teach our children a lesson. And sometimes we have to take responsibility for an action that was entirely not ours- but rather the tiny being we are responsible for.
We did not go to the movies that night. And we did spend FOUR hours magic-erasing the entire length of the school to remove a very deeply engrained red crayon wax from the textured walls. It was not only my child that did the scrubbing; but me as well. By the end she’d learned that fixing her mistakes was not a fun task- and it’d have been much easier not to make that mistake in the first place. But she also learned that just because you make a mistake- does not mean it’s the end of the world; and there are people who love you, who will help you fix your problems if you need them to. And that was worth sacrificing my relaxing evening at the movies for.