Thursday, April 02, 2009

This Will Be Funny One Day, Right? RIGHT?!?!?

So one of the things we did while Brendan's family was in town was paint Morgan's room pink! She's been making do with the old green walls of the nursery, and the zoo animal wallpaper border, and a mish-mash of furniture new and old. (Sean's room will be our current guest room, so he's not in the old nursery.)

Tuesday was wet and rainy, our family brought old clothes and so we got a nice shade of pink paint from Home Depot and went to work! It's very pretty and I plan to touch up tonight.

So anyway, the kids were upstairs and quiet this afternoon--too quiet. I called up, "Whatcha doing?" Both of them, "Nothing!"

Suspicious, I headed upstairs with the baby. Ryan, obviously anticipating the next scene, tells me, "Morgan's painting her carpet." and skedaddled.

W. T. F.

Sure enough, I walk in to Morgan's room to discover her covered with pink paint, holding a dripping paint brush over her carpet. A glance at the paint can revealed the extra roller brush (sans roller) bobbing up and down in the paint can like the Titanic.

I didn't yell. (Go me!) I was, however, extremely upset, and a few oh-no-oh-noes escaped my lips.

Morgan burst into tears, dropped the paint brush and ran from the room. Sean, who is Mr. Emotional Mirror lately, also bursts into tears. I nearly did.

I got Morgan in the tub and washed off her hair, and she was screaming and sobbing, "Ryan told me to do it!" I gently reminded her that she is in charge of her own body and that she can always tell Ryan NO.

I called Ryan up and asked him if he told her to do it. "No," says he, "I think she misunderstood me. I told her NOT to paint her carpet." He repeated this a couple of times.

Now this is plausible. But I smelled a rat. So I told him, sitting on the bathroom floor, holding Sean, Morgan still wailing in the bathtub, "I need to know what's true. I'm going to give you one chance to tell me what the truth is, and I promise I won't get mad. Well--any madder than I already am--I'm pretty upset right now. But . . . if you tell me a lie right now, and then later I find out that you lied to me, well then I will be VERY upset, way more upset than I am right now. So I need you to tell me what really happened because I want to believe and trust you."

He stared at me for a second and then said, "Okay. What I said before was a lie and I want to tell you the truth now. I told Morgan that I thought she might like pink carpet and I told her to paint it."

And I didn't get mad. I kept my promise. (Go me again!)

I thanked him for telling him the truth, explained to both of them that wall paint does not come off of carpets the way kid paint does, and told them we'd figure something out. I gave them both a hug (Morgan got me all wet), and then put Ryan in charge of Sean while I went to inspect the damage.

It is everywhere and pretty much dried up. Sigh. Also, the walls were smeared in random spots (I fixed those as best I could with the still dripping paint brush).

So, what do we do--a creative use of rugs? Some of it we can cover up with furniture, but some we can't--right in front of the closet.

Funny one day, yes? :o) I must be feeling better because I can kind of see a glimmer of humor about it as I type.

Oh well. Even though this was kind of a disaster, I think I did some things right--I didn't yell. I did show how upset I was in an appropriate way--and even though Morgan got so sad, I think it's good for them to see that this made me mad. I got Ryan to tell me the truth and told him I was proud of him for telling me the truth. I explained about the difference between wall paint and kid paint.

And Morgan's room is just a leeeetle bit pinker than we had intended.


Roberto 'Tito' Sarrionandia said...

Oh dear!

Stephanie Ozenne said...

I think you handled it *perfectly*.

And it will be hilarious one day. Probably sometime after you have the room re-carpeted. It's funny to your blog readers right now!

Go you!


Anonymous said...


You did a great job, Jenn. Really. I am so impressed with how you handled this. I think this story will come to mind time and time again when I'm a parent.

You could use carpets creatively...or...have you checked under the carpet to see if you have wood flooring underneath? It might just be subfloor, but it could be helpful to find out. Either way, you could probably get a Morgan's room-sized remnant to replace the pink carpet :-P

Jim said...

You did a great job.

One important thing, you will need to get some pictures of any remaining evidence. Years from now, you will be glad to have them.

Travis N said...

Funny someday? I don't know what you're talking about. This is hilarious right now! Oh... you meant *to you*.

Kelly's right. You handled the situation very well. Giving Ryan the one last chance to come clean, and then sticking to your promise not to get mad(der), is particularly cool. It'll be a powerful lesson for him.

As to what to do about it, I am reminded of one of my favorite lines from Strunk and White: "If you don't know how to pronounce a word, say it LOUD." In the present situation, that would seem to translate into *expanding* the pink carpet patch into a nice shape (like a star or heart or smiley face) by adding more paint. The kids could help plan and execute the addition. It'd be like one of those fancy inlays that fancy people put into hardwood floors... only, different. I mean, if there's going to be a giant pink patch with messed-up texture on the carpet, it might as well be shaped like a heart or smiley face, right?

And just in case it's not clear, I am totally not joking at all with this suggestion. The only trick will be helping the kids understand that this is not a precedent to be followed by other kids who want, say, a giant green triceratops on their carpet.

Amy said...

Classic. And right after you had the carpets cleaned! This makes my broken glass issues seem easy.

Maybe it would not be very expensive to install new carpet in just one room, especially if you don't have to change the pad. I'd go with Travis' suggestion of just expanding the pink, except that it must be stiff and uncomfortable. But maybe you just leave it anyway.

Good job on the parenting. That is way more important than the carpet.

Jen said...

Hilarious!! I'm so sorry for you and yet have to laugh...How amazing that you kept your cool. I honestly don't think I would be that calm.
Throw rugs hide all sorts of things and the layered look is in!
I'm sure Lili will be pulling stunts like that soon...

C. August said...

As a parent of equally independent and strong-minded and "creative" children, I can only say that your restraint is supremely admirable.

I aspire to being able to parrot your discussion with Ryan.

Lately, discussions in our house have hovered around the crazily emotional outbreaks of a 5-year old girl that seem to come out of the blue. How do you deal with a being who seemed so rational just weeks ago, but now is fully captured by a Dionysian spirit?

What I found is... ask.

"You seem really upset about {insert odd thing here}. What did you think should happen?"

And suddenly, the key pieces of info she didn't think to give, like, she thought that show-and-tell was today (even though it was two days ago), and she had been planning her project for days, but didn't tell anyone about it, now makes sense and we can help her to figure out how to make it work and talk to the teacher about making a special show-and-tell day.

The "odd" emotional outbreaks often are the effect of rational kid-plans made but not communicated, and it takes the patient parent to tease it out. It's effing hard sometimes, but when it works, damn, is it worth it.

MamaJen said...

Oh - that's one of the hardest parenting tasks of school-aged and older kids - when you ask for the absolute truth and have to NOT get as mad as you want to get. (Remind me to tell you about how A scratched my uber-cool Macbook Pro with his TEETH the other day! And how I did what you did and DIDN'T get *more* mad when he told me the truth - even though I wanted to pull out all my hair and just *scream*! ;-)

The key is - they STILL need to pay the consequence of their actions (A can no longer use my laptop, even though their computer is broken - at least for a week), but they DO get major points for telling the truth. I am so proud of you (and of me!) for keeping our cool in these instances - it is SO important, IMHO.

Btw - putting paint places it *doesn't* belong is SO much a 4 year old thing. I don't know if you remember - we had yellow paint stains all along our stair step railing and carpet in our house in St. Paul, because Jack got a hold of a paint roller after we'd painted a room when he was about 4. Trust me - it WILL be hysterically funny, and a truly fond memory - *someday*! :-)

Principled Parent said...

I am so impressed with how you handled this situation! Not yelling is seriously impressive. I came from a yelling household and under stress it takes a lot of self control to maintain normal volume so I can really respect how hard this must have been--at least it would have been hard for me to do :-)

I really like how you shared your feelings while still maintaining a level of calm. And that you convinced Ryan to tell the truth is fantastic!

I am certain this will be one of those funny stories you'll have later on.

Andrew Miner said...

Wow! You get the self-control award for today! That kind of thing makes me vent out the ears, and it's all I can do to prevent bodily harm to my five-year-old!

At this point, you may as well splatter the rest of the carpet and make it look intentional!

Rational Jenn said...

Thank you, everyone! I'm beginning to find the whole thing pretty darn amusing, which is a good step toward one day finding this hilarious.

I'm glad I didn't taint this will-be-funny-one-day memory with the memory of me losing my mind completely. :o) But oooooohhhhhhh how I wanted to.

I'm liking the suggestions for Embracing the Pink. After putting the second coat on the walls yesterday--that was an adventure in kid logistics since everyone, including Sean, wanted to lodge themselves in my behind for the process--we're out of pink paint entirely. Which is okay, because it would have made the carpet really stiff, as someone pointed out.

I will be looking into getting a colorful carpet remnant (or two?) from a local carpet place on the cheap.

Oh. And pictures. Need to go take some pictures, too.

Thanks again for the moral support! :o)