Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekly Column: The Power Of Presence

It was a slow morning. We’d been homebound due to sickness or weather for 3 days running, and my toddler was restless in a bouncing-off-the-walls sort of way.

I settled her in with some crayons and paper at the table, and wandered away to see about making the winter/spring clothing switch in her bedroom. That’s never a quick task, but with my two-year-old happy at the table and my big girl resting feverishly on the couch, I assumed the coast was clear for a few minutes of quiet sorting.

As usual, once I got heavily interested in what I was doing, I forgot all about the time. A few minutes turned into ten, and I hadn’t checked on my littlest girl. She was quiet, though; that should have been my first warning. When I realized the probable ramifications of silence, I raced to the kitchen where, sure enough, silence had led to trouble.

My toddler was coloring big, broad circles on our wooden tabletop, with a MARKER. And not an innocent, washable marker, either. She’d found a cheap, unwashable set of markers and had entertained herself by covering an 18-inch square corner of the table with deep purple circles.

The table was toast, and I was furious. I scrubbed the stains until my arms burned, mad at my toddler for her naughtiness. When I calmed down, I realized the fault wasn’t hers alone, though. Oh, no – it also belonged to the parent who’d lost track of time. The fault was at least half mine.

No matter how well behaved my children can be, no matter how ‘safely’ occupied, there’s just no substitute for me being present. Where toddlers are concerned, only a parent’s attentive presence can provide the supervision necessary to avoid such catastrophes as ruined furniture.


  1. Ahhhh...same thing happened at my house years ago with red nail polish. You might look into sanding the whole table top and applying new varnish. You can still always use a tablecloth if that doesn't turn out nice!

  2. My brother ruined a table when he was little, too. He stabbed it with his fork every time he ate, and there are circles from where he was trying to make circles out of tin foil and dug through the foil and went into the table. The funny thing is, my mom gave this old table away to another family a few years ago and cried because she was losing Jonathan's "artwork." It might not help right now, but years from now maybe it'll become a sentimental thing. I guess time will tell. And my Mom got that table back, eventually. The people moved and returned it, and now my little boy plays with playdough on it and sticks stickers on it and eats his peanut and jelly there. I kind of like it. :)

  3. Mmmm... that's so hard to learn. It's almost like a slap in the face when you realize it's not entirely their fault ;)
    Sorry about your table though!

  4. Amen, Sarah! I think we all need to be reminded of that from time to time. I usually get that slap in the face when someone gets hurt cause I ran off to get something else done. I'm sorry about your table, though!


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?