Good graffiti

           Back in the good ol’ summertime when we were avoiding the thought of school starting again by procrastinating early bedtimes, regular showers, and cleaning out last year’s backpack. Eventually, in the nick of time, we caved and got ready for a new year and, with mere minutes left, finally went school shopping.
            Because I hate buying things that my kids won’t end up using, following lists, the outlaw of Trapper Keepers with unicorns and rainbows, and shopping in general, the annual school supply shopping trip is not one I complete with any sort of grace. This year was no different and there was paper thrown, words exchanged, and eventually we all divided and conquered with no hope of leaving without spending way too much money.
            And that’s how we ended up with four extra packages of dry erase markers.
            Normally a person would return them (lost the receipt) or donate them, but instead I figured out something to do with these that has been more fun than a pre-packaged box of school supplies. I strategically placed all of the dry erase markers around the house. There are some in our upstairs bathrooms. There are some in the windowsill on the landing. There is a whole pile of them by the back kitchen door.
            What some people might not realize is that dry erase markers work on more than just white boards. They also work on glass. As non-porous as the white board surface, dry erase markers easily write on and a simple paper towel easily wipe off. What all of this means is that my beautiful home is full of windows and mirrors covered in graffiti.
            “Have at it,” I said. And I meant it.
            At first it started as just writing notes. “I went for a run.” And then things got even more practical. “What should we have for dinner tonight? Write your vote here.” (They will always vote for noodles.) Soon enough our entire back door was a floor to ceiling calendar of all of the week’s activities. It’s also been a questionnaire (Who was your favorite teacher of all time?), a translucent mural welcoming Autumn, and the playing field for a race of multiplication facts.
            The bathroom mirrors took on a new form as a parenting tool. I could easily scribble BRUSH YOUR TEETH and other comments about personal hygiene quickly and too obvious to be ignored.
            But my favorite of all has been a small window that splits our staircase. Somehow that one has become a screen for encouragement and inspiration. “Have a great day everyday!” is my favorite thing that has appeared there. It took me days to get up the courage to erase it.

            I don’t always get parenting right, and anyone in the school supply aisle will confirm. But this marker mistake was one I will gladly claim.

Originally written 10.9.16


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