After we'd finished skyping with our parents yesterday afternoon, Benjamin and I went down for a nap together. Andrew read a book, took copious notes, and supervised the girls in their artistic endeavors. One of Miriam's Sunbeams teachers is getting ready to leave on a mission in just a few weeks and has been cleaning out her bedroom. She found a bunch of crafty things that she hadn't used in years and didn't see herself using in the near future and asked if anyone wanted them. I gladly claimed them and we brought them home from church with us.
Paper, crayons, ribbons, stencils, boondoggle!* The girls were lifted higher and higher onto cloud nine as they pulled each treasure out of the bag.
When they came across some unknown art medium that looked particularly messy I cautioned them to not use them until I could help them with it. They looked like pastels (but it turns out they were color slicks).
Unfortunately, the fact the items were expressly contraband was quickly forgotten once I was in bed, asleep and Daddy's supervisory skills are markedly unreliable when his nose is in an interesting book (one he started reading for his first master's program years ago but never finished and which turned out to be required reading for one of classes this semester (it's like a free text book!)). By the time he checked on them there were flakes of colour all over the table and benches and floor. The girls had been up and down and all around the house and had spread the bits of colour with their feet until it looked like someone had taken a crayon and scribbled all over the hardwood floor.
I imagine Andrew was furious but he managed to keep his cool and helped the girls clean up the big mess and make dinner before I woke up.
While they were cleaning Rachel was rather contrite.
"I'm so sorry!" she said. "This is such a pain! It's so hard to clean! It's all over the place! Kids can be so difficult! I'm sorry! I shouldn't have even used them! It's just all over the place!"
It really was—I just mopped the floor this morning and I think I got the rest of it up (but probably didn't). I mopped up streaks of colour in the kitchen, under the table, in my bedroom closet (!), and in the bathroom. I can only imagine how much they cleaned up on their own.
Fortunately, color slicks aren't pastels and are relatively easy to clean from most surfaces (including but not limited to hardwood floors, clothing, and tile).
When Andrew returned to his book after dinner he said, "I'm finally going to finish this book! I only have ten pages left!"
"It's only taken you—what?—four years, interrupted by an entire master's degree program," I said.
"Not to mention the Great Pastel Fiasco of 2013," he added.
Rachel asked if she could start working on her Valentines for school.
"Will you help me?" she asked. "And while we make them we can talk about the pastels again?"
"Why?" I asked. "I think we've talked about it enough." Then I summed up, "You were told not to use them. You used them anyway. It made a big mess. The consequence was that you had to clean up that big mess. It was a lot of work. Lesson learned."
"I know," she said. "But I want to talk about it so that I always remember it so that when I have kids I can tell them about the choice I made and how they shouldn't make a choice like that."
She can be so funny sometimes. She was so upset by her behaviour—clearly she saw why I had told her not to use them in the first place—and was so repentant. It's very forward-thinking of her to want to store this story away for future teaching moments.
*So, I did not know that boondoggle is "a wasteful or impractical project or activity often involving graft," which is a terrible definition because how is anyone supposed to know what graft means in this definition? I think they're going for "the acquisition of gain (as money) in dishonest or questionable ways," but perhaps they just mean the British meaning of "work." Hard to say. Either way, I always just thought it was that flat plastic cord stuff used in crafts...