This morning, as Joe and I arrived home after some errands and I was pulling into the driveway, I noticed that our house seemed especially happy. How could I tell? Well…I noticed that the stone facing was smiling at me. No. I was not high. The stones honestly had both white and black smiley faces on them. Immediately I knew that the white ones were drawn with sidewalk chalk. What I did not know was which medium the 4 foot tall vandal had used to create the black smiles, crayon or Sharpie.
Trying desperately not to overreact, I stopped the car and turned around to look at Joe. He is a notoriously honest child (perhaps because he’s such a miserable liar), so I asked him if he knew what was up with the rocks. I gave him that “don’t even bother trying to lie about this” glare and he crumbled nearly immediately.
“Okay. Okay. I’ll tell you the truth. I drew the white faces.”
“With what?” I inquired.
“With chalk,” he replied.
“Uh huh.” I paused for dramatic effect. “And the black ones?
“I did not do those. In fact (Joe uses “in fact” a lot), this is the first time I’ve seen those ones.”
I gave him one more withering stare and pulled into the garage. I asked him to come look at the marks with me. As we stood before them, I could see that the black marks were made with crayon rather than Sharpie. I was deeply relieved.
As we walked into the house, I used words like “vandalism” and “misdemeanor.” I asked him if he knew that willfully defacing someone’s property was a crime. I graciously told him that I would not press charges against him because he’s my son (ha), but I also told him if he knew he should tell me who used black crayon on our house. I truly believe he doesn’t know because he would have caved under pressure. He always does. I reminded him, though, that whoever did it was merely following his disrespectful example, which made him culpable even if he didn’t wield the black crayon himself. I thought it might be good for him to chew on that thought for a while.
I started preparing a bucket of soapy water and asked him to go upstairs and get the scrub brush. When he came back down, I handed him a Magic Eraser sponge and then sent him out to get to work. I let him scrub at it for about five minutes before I went out. The white chalk was mostly gone but he was still working on the black crayon. I have to admit that it felt pretty good to stand there and supervise. I could have done it myself, but why should I deny him the reward of responsibility? After all, it was his mess to clean up.
When I got home today, my house was smiling at me. As I go to bed tonight, I am smiling at myself for making Joe clean up his own mess. I’m also smiling because I know he will not draw on our house again. He now knows that defacing our property will, at the very least, mean he will have to clean it up. Hell. For all he knows, next time I just might call the police on him. 😉