I have, since birth, let my daughter color/marker/paint on anything that belongs to her. Yes that means everything. If it’s hers, she can decorate (read: destroy) it.
We’ve all seen it: The precocious toddler proud as punch that she’s just completed her first ever mural on your formal dining room’s wall. We’ve seen the sharpie on the white Subaru and the glitter glue splattered on your grandmother’s antique hutch, foam stars pressed into each glob. Once I saw a kid use a stick to carve into his father’s brand new leather couch. After my daughter was born, I would go through these scenarios in my head, wracking my brain about what to do to avoid these mishaps. But when my daughter colored on her doll when she was one, I instantly thought, “well, what’s so wrong with that.” Like most things that I have become totally cool with, that was the beginning of my hair-brained idea to let my kid do whatever the f she wants with her stuff.
I mean, I have to say, i feel like it’s pretty genius. In her mind she is contributing to making her objects even better; making something ordinary beautiful and using her creativity skills in an out-of-the-box kind of way. What could have resulted in endless fighting and punishment driven by her very normal 3-year-old urge to bedazzle things, is now a lesson in ownership and cause and effect. Her objects belong to her so she is free to choose what to do with them. And if she happens to dislike the decision she made to glue pictures of giraffes to her play kitchen, well, she’s just going to have to deal.
This decision has so far resulted in, at the best times, small arguments with my husband — and, at the worst times, judging stares from visitors. The best part about this unconventional “cool mom” move is that my shoes don’t get colored on and my walls stay marker free. Yeah, her toys may look ridiculous — every single baby doll she owns has a brownish purple hue as a result of her wanting rainbow babies — but soon enough she’ll outgrow those sweet little beet-colored babes and her artistic expression will be contained by the four lines of a canvas or a sheet of paper.
Let’s all just hope she’s not still painting her car when she’s 16 or coloring on her Christmas dress in December. Hell, maybe I will let her paint a mural on my wall. What’s so wrong with that?
This op-ed was submitted by a member of the Sway community who prefers to remain anonymous.