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March 7, 2011 / MrsH

Permanent Red Dots

For his birthday a few weeks ago, Buddy got a mug that he could decorate himself.  It came with markers.  Permanent, cup-marking markers.  The kind that will stay on even in the dishwasher.  Buddy did a great job coloring every square inch of his cup, at which point we moved the markers to a higher shelf.  He said he wanted to keep them to finish the cup later (I think he missed a spot on the bottom… or maybe he envisioned a second layer?).  We forgot about the markers as the cup took its rightful place as “new favorite item in the house.”

One day, rest hour had just ended and MrH and I had been busy getting ready for our vacation, I walked downstairs and noticed a red dot on the magna doodle.  Odd, but hey, that stuff happens.  I went in the kitchen and noticed a red dot on the cabinet.  And the wall.  And the handle.  The glass door, the door knob, the table, a chair, the red wall, the white wall, the floor… Well, you get the picture.  Livid, angry, po’d.  Oh yes, I’m thankful MrH was home and able to deal more calmly.  This is weeks ago and most of the dots are still there.  All my attempts to erase them have resulted in either stripped paint or giant bright orangey-pink splotches.  Yuck.

I mentioned this today while chatting with some parents, and one gave me some cleaning solution that she swore would get the stuff off.  So upon coming home I excitedly showed Buddy and told him the red dots would finally be able to come off.  My enthusiasm was met with a chill response, and after some prodding he told me that he’d wanted those dots to stay there forever, and to not ever be gone.

Funny thing is that I remember at some point in the past year reading about someone’s foster (or adoptive?) kid drawing all over the walls and it had something to do with marking this new home as his territory and the ways in which he was grappling with permanence.  The mom had some sort of brilliant solution that allowed her child’s needs to be met and resolved his permanency issues, after which she never struggled with the drawing on walls thing again.  It was beautiful and I filed it away in the back of my brain.  So now I’m faced with what sounds like the exact same issue and I’ve forgotten her brilliant solution!  I’m torn: do I use the magic cleaning stuff and erase his dots, or will that just invite more marking?  Or do I leave the dots and deal with my own big feelings every time I see them?  I have so little maternal instinct with this kid, I’d much rather rely on an expert somewhere…



Leave a Comment
  1. Kateisfun / Mar 8 2011 10:13 pm

    I am so touched by this story! What would a compromise feel like – letting some of the dots stay, while others go – say, five, since that’s his age – and he or you could chose which ones? Buddy sounds like such a sweetheart.

  2. Thorn / Mar 15 2011 7:09 am

    Lisa at has written about this, though it may be on another blog that I don’t think is public anymore. She would draw around the pictures herself and write “Mom loves you!” or something like that, add a heart. I’m sure if you got in touch with her, she’d be glad to share details I don’t entirely recall.

    • MrsH / Mar 15 2011 8:32 pm

      Thanks for the feedback! Most of the dots are still there now, and my anger is subsiding. The other day Buddy was trying to clean one off with a cloth. We were in a rush, but I think that means it’s time to check in with him about it again!

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