Never Forget Rule #3 – Beware of the Quiet

I forgot.

Blame Mommy Brain.

Blame complacency—only one child was at home.

Blame the fact my children are over the age of three and I thought the rule no longer applied.

I was wrong.

I forgot rule #3 of parenting:


It was Monday and I hadn’t yet reached the twenty-four hour mark on the antibiotics treating my ear infection. My ear hurt, my sinuses ached, and my nose was so stopped up I risked exploding an eardrum if I dared use a tissue.

I did the only thing a mother at home with an awake three-year-old can do: I laid on the couch and prayed she’d entertain herself.

And she did. She babbled and talked and I closed my eyes, afraid to move an inch as I gained the ability to breathe out of one nostril.

Then it hit me.

She was too quiet.

I sacrificed my breathing and rose, hurrying into the adjacent playroom.

There I found a pile of her brother’s new markers—caps off—strewn around her, cast like a circle of magic. Naked dolls of every size joined the circle as if sacrificed.

In the middle was Lil Diva, who evidently didn’t want to wait for Mommy to breathe so I could paint her nails…

Parenting Rule #3 - Beware of Quiet

This was just the bottom half..

Marker makes great body art...

Not shown: how the marker decoration went ALL the up her legs and continued all over her belly…

The dolls did not escape unscathed.

Doesn't it look like Barbie had a facial?

It’s hard to see on the baby dolls because she used a light green and yellow, but they all have pedicures (on the bottoms of their feet) and partial facials. But Belle, Cinderella, and Ariel had the more drastic “all over” dark green makeovers.

Neither did the carpet.

The scene of the makeover.

They are washable markers.. It *should* come out…

I tamped down any anger (because frankly, what is a little marker when your 12-year-old cat decides to eschew the litter box), grabbed the camera, and firmly instructed her, “Do not do that again WITHOUT Mommy’s permission.”

Two days later, it was crayon on the tile, but I caught the silence early this time.

Because now, I remember:


And rule #29:  Never purchase any paint/marker/crayon that does not say “WASHABLE” on the side.

At least until they are teenagers.

* * *

What have your children done when it’s been “too quiet?”

About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos ( sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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13 Responses to Never Forget Rule #3 – Beware of the Quiet

  1. le0pard13 says:

    I remember those days…

  2. My 2.5 year old did exactly that..drew on herself, the carpet her bed sheets and the wall. Two weeks ago she was exploring her poopy pull-up and wiped that experiment on the walls and curtains. Sometimes I think if you poke them and they sit there and cry for a little at least they are not getting into trouble.

    • My sister used to do that as a baby. Instead of crying when she woke up, she’d de-diaper herself and paint. The smell is what woke my parents…

      This is also why I am glad she’s potty trained now…

      It also makes me happy my son had no interest in drawing until 4.5, but because he now LOVES to draw, it also means markers are always within reach…

  3. Katie says:

    That is something that Lil Sis would TOTALLY do! I have actually taken away all markers, leaving her only with crayons because she’s not quite careful enough yet, loves to color, and I don’t feel like trying to get marker out of the carpet. I would add to Rule #29, though, to only purchase good-quality, name-brand markers/paints/crayons marked “washable.” I bought off-brand markers once, and those F-ers were so NOT washable, despite the representation on the packaging! Hope the carpet cleans up okay!

    • I see my tradition of being a Crayola snob has paid off…. I have never bought drawing things off-brand for kids except perhaps chalk. As it is, my son often has “artist fingers” where they are stained with marker (though it comes off in the bath).

      Addendum to #29 duly noted, though. 🙂

  4. Maggie says:

    I so enjoyed this! And greatly sympathize with you. I have chronic sinus issues and one nostril breathing is a good thing for me. Can’t imagine taking care of a child and dealing with sinuses. Didn’t realize it was true until I saw the photos. Priceless!

  5. Emily Weaver says:

    My oldest did this with a red sharpie once….after our house was under contract. He decorated the toilet, the sink, and the bathtub. FYI, comet removes red sharpie from toilets, sinks and bathtubs..

  6. I feel your pain. The sudden suspicious quiet is something that as a father of a six year old boy I’ve learned to treat as a priority. Beautifully written piece

  7. Maybe she was dyeing their hair? 😉

  8. Jessica (@jessbwatson) says:

    Oh that dangerous quiet. I have photos of my kids looking exactly the same. Somehow the Barbies were spared though.

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