Like many families with small children we have come to possess rather a lot of sidewalk chalk. You buy some for the kids and a grandparent buys some for the kids and then a friend thinks your kids would like chalk, and pretty soon you have tons. And the chalk is so huge it just lasts forever and ever and ever.
Sidewalk chalk has a way of getting everywhere. My own child’s ‘finger friends‘ love to use chalk on the side of the house, in particular. And that stuff doesn’t wash away, since the overhang prevents water from ever coming into contact with it. So the side of my house has been decorated for like 2 years because in spite of my plans to clean it I just never get around to it.
Recently, the finger friends struck again. I was in the back yard and I noticed some letters on the side of our house. They said ‘HAN’, and then whoever was writing it ran out of room. So I asked my daughter HANnah about it, and she blamed her one-year-old brother. I pointed out that it was her name. She said, “Oh yes, it was the finger friends. They’re so sneaky!” I was frustrated, because I have spent the last 2 years discussing the appropriate use of sidewalk chalk. I decided that Hannah should wash it off. In fact, she should wash off every decoration she’d added to our house, ever. Because I didn’t want to, and maybe that would make her think first next time. Hmph.
Hannah’s favourite part, a ‘tree’
I got Hannah a bucket of soapy water and a cloth and showed her how to wring it out so it wouldn’t drip everywhere. But really quickly Hannah discovered that if she let the cloth drip and splash over the side of the house it made wet shapes on the wall. She did all her cleaning and then proceeded to wash most of the garage door. Only she referred to it as making art, and it became one big game. She used the wash cloth, her hands, and her feet. She deliberately spilled soapy water on the pavement so that she could tramp through it. I had to ask her to stop cleaning because her baby brother got into the bucket of water and she was soaking wet.
I think Hannah enjoyed cleaning the chalk mess more than she enjoyed making it. And you know what? That’s fine. The point wasn’t to make her miserable. The point was that we clean up our own messes. And she did. I felt satisfied, and so did she. That’s really all I could possibly ask for.
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