Artist in Residence

When you have a kid nicknamed The Barbarian, you can expect some bad behavior. Toys trounced upon, cookies pilfered, siblings pinched. But Martin refuses to accept that.

“I’m not calling her The Barbarian anymore,” he announced a week ago. “When we call her that, people expect that kind of behavior. It’s like she has a license to be bad.”

No matter, Martin. Call her what you like — princess, sugarplum, sweetheart — you can’t stifle The Barbarian lurking beneath.

Over the weekend Hadley found herself housebound and unoccupied. Having already dismantled Cayden’s lego Starwars fighter ships, she set her sights on something more creative. Coloring is always a top choice, but why bother with a coloring book (or swipe my printer paper) when the body is such a wonderful canvas?

I realized, with a sinking feeling, that all was too quiet when I peeked in the living room. The Boy was seated a few inches from the TV screen, but Hadley was standing center stage, the marker still in her grasp. She looked like a Dr. Seuss character, clad in her favorite multi-colored striped dress… with jagged blue magic marker tracks running down her legs. Like giant mutant varicose veins, from her hips to her feet.

She’d even colored her toenails.

Prior to “the incident”
photo credit, YD Chyun

I sized up her handy work, then let out a primal scream when I realized that her artistry extended to the couches and all over Brynn’s baby walker. (Clearly, the Barbarian remembered that doodling on the baby violated the parent-child Geneva convention agreement.)

Unfortunately, I didn’t gather any photographic evidence; without thinking I launched into manic cleaning mode, as if speed would reverse the effects of permanent marker.

Interestingly enough, rubbing alcohol is highly effective at lifting magic marker from just about everything. Except human skin. Martin and I scrubbed Hadley raw with soap, alcohol and industrial hand cleanser (scrubbing doubled as punishment). Despite all the washing, she still bears the faded blue streaks.

One of the daycare teachers asked Had about her blue legs and apparently she offered no explanation. She looked sternly at her teacher and offered a vague admission of guilt: “I already said sorry to my mom.”

Enough said.