I could probably just post the following pictures with no explanation and it would still make perfect sense to you all. But I need to write this down to work through it, so here goes...
Today after lunch the girls were playing downstairs like they do most days, and after awhile Evie came upstairs with orange marker scribbled on both her cheeks. I asked her why she had done that, and she replied that it was Lila who had drawn on her. Deciding to bypass the discussion about why/how her younger sister was allowed to, or alternatively, could possibly over-power her to draw on her face (for now), we went straight for the obvious. "Why does Lila have a marker at all? Bring me all the markers!" With Lila's track record of drawing on furniture I just don't allow them access to markers. Period. (And don't even get me started on scissors...)
A little while later it was time to go pick Jake up from school. I called the girls up and because we were in a rush and it's unseasonably warm I just grabbed Lila and carried her out to the car. As I was buckling her in I noticed that she had drawn on her pants.
Then I noticed her feet.
I reprimanded her quiet sternly and gave her a talking to the whole way up to the school about why we don't draw on our clothes or our bodies. I also gave Evie another talking to about the fact that none of them are allowed to have markers anymore and if anyone finds one they are supposed to bring it to me immediately!
When we got back home I sent the older two down to start picking up their bedrooms and the play room and told Lila to get a diaper so I could change her. I went and got the camera because now that the unpleasantness of having to get after her was over I thought I should document her naughtiness for when she is a mom and complaining to me because her three year old is drawing all over her furniture...
That's when I discovered just how much she had drawn on her pants.
And then I took off her pants to change the diaper.
My eye started to twitch at this point.
(These baby tattoos do not come off with either a wipe or soap and water, any suggestions?)
While I was trying desperately to breath and count to ten and say all the state capitols in reverse alphabetical order and calm down before I "talked" to her about it again, Jake came upstairs to inform me (in a very fearful "don't shoot the messenger" kind of way) that Lila had drawn on the couch downstairs as well.
I lost it.
I was scary.
I screamed and cried and wailed and gnashed my teeth and pulled my hair. I smacked Lila's bum and sent her to time out on my bed, where she obviously sensed it was in the best interest of her continuing health and well fare to stay put. And I made a terrible pronouncement that reduced the other two to tears as well. "We will no longer have art supplies of any kind in this house!" I grabbed a garbage sack and made them fill it up.
So there we are, not even together for an hour today and every one of us is in tears. I called Brian, a shaking and crying mess, to tell him what had happened and so he could help talk me off the ledge. I calmed down after a few minutes and agreed with his wise counsel not to throw everything away in the heat of anger. We are going to get a box or tote or something that can be locked, and all art projects will henceforth be done at the kitchen table under parental supervision. It makes me very sad that both Jake and Evie have to suffer because of Lila's continued bad choices, but I simply cannot take it anymore. I have tried everything I can think of to get her to stop drawing on the furniture, the walls, the toys, the television and herself (and apparently anyone else who will hold still long enough) and I have failed. I've talked, I've yelled, I've reasoned, I've cried, I've made her clean it up, I've even smacked her hand a time or two.
I am completely at my wit's end, which is a really scary place to be. It terrifies me to think that I cannot figure out how to parent this child. I have been fighting this same behavior for more than a year and a half (and considering that she is only three is pretty sad) and have not yet been able to teach her not to keep repeating the same mistake. It's frustrating now, but it's terrifying to contemplate later on in life when the consequences of mistakes can be much worse than a ruined pair of pj's and a destroyed couch.
This is one of those parenting moments when I just wanted so badly to lock myself in the bathroom and call my mom for guidance and reassurance. I wanted her to tell me again about the time I drew in permanent marker all over the room that my parents had just finished wall papering and made my dad cry, and see, I didn't turn out so bad after all did I?
Or did I...
I did just throw a rather spectacular Mommy temper tantrum.
Is 5 pm too early for bedtime?