The other day my son and I walked into his bedroom to get him ready for his nap. The scene that greeted me were huge beautiful crayon swirls on his walls next to his bed. I think my jaw hit the ground. My son gave a nervous giggle and started jumping up and down. As my eyes traveled from one circle to another, I gasped. It was then that my son realized how bad it really was and just started crying. I think I gasped five separate times: 2 large circles, drawings on his dinosaur poster, crayon decorations on his border, and then the lines below the border.
My son's reaction was the wide open mouthed wail, red face, and he kept trying to shut my lips, because my mouth was still open in shock. Because he was standing on his bed, my head was around chest height, he grabbed my head and pressed it to his chest begging me to not talk. Mind you, I hadn't said a word. It was comical, the whole head to the chest thing was right out of a movie. He just wailed pathetically. I have to admit it took all I had to not laugh at him. I know a little Magic Eraser will help take the crayon off the wall, at least I hope it does!
When I finally spoke I asked him when he did it. He said he couldn't remember. Since we were at a birthday party the day before and he didn't come home until the evening and he was fast asleep when he was placed in his bed we think he worked on his mural sometime the next morning or when he was supposed to be napping. I told him he had to tell his father and he just melted. Unbeknownst to him I knew that my husband would laugh and think it's great. He's been wondering why William hasn't attempted it yet. Please know that my husband is very creative and is an artist himself (in his spare time). I'm sure that he spent many a day as a young boy drawing where he wasn't supposed to.
I put on my best disappointed face and told him to get into bed for his nap. He asked for his favorite stuffed animal, Chester, who was downstairs. I told him that I wasn't going to get it, but he was welcome to get it himself. My son wailed and flung the comforter over his head as he burrowed deep under the covers. Again, I did not forbid him having Chester, but I wasn't going to get it for him. I think the guilt over the crayon mural made my son stay put.
Throughout this whole ordeal I never once raised my voice. I may have used a stern voice, but no yelling involved. His punishment was to tell his father, clean the walls (which we'll do later this week), and no video games until the walls are clean. He's really into video games right now I thought this would add a little oomph to the punishment. After his "quiet time" (because he didn't take a nap) he did ask if I was going to send him away and asked to where I was sending him. For the record, I never told him that I would send him away.
I found that the shocked face along with dramatic gasps was more effective than raising my voice and yelling at my son. Thank you, thank you. As my SIL (sister-in-law) wrote on my FB status: "It sounds like he has a well developed guilt complex, your disappointment and helping in the clean up may be punishment enough." Ahhh, yes the guilt complex. Well-honed from learning it from my Asian mother. Guilt was an effective tool in punishing me and to this day I often feel guilty for doing something or not doing something. I'm a sucker and you can almost get me to do just about anything because I will feel guilty if I don't. Asian guilt is quite the tool.
I'm also reading a book: Raising the Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation. It's a tongue-in-cheek book written by comedian Elizabeth Beckwith about child rearing and is not to be taken seriously...sort of. HA! It was given to me by a friend who's brother gave it to her saying this was how they were raised. She passed it on to me knowing a little bit about my background. It's funny, because it's true ;)
ps: I noticed the other day that my son's mural really looked more like Munch's work instead of Dali, Picasso, or Van Gogh. I noticed that one of the swirls, when looking at it from a certain angle, looked like a long head, with wide eyes and mouth, kind of like "The Scream" (is that right?) by Munch. You think he is trying to tell me something?