Monday, April 13, 2009

The Smell of Purple

He was in his room too long. I was getting cocky about dealing with his behavior and somehow this must be God’s way of reminding me: nothing is predictable with this young man.

My son had, what a lot of parents will recognize, as a melt down. He had screamed and threw things around the room because... well I can’t even remember why. It doesn’t matter. It usually happened because his ordered routine was jumbled around.

What I had instituted was technically not a time-out but a “well why not go to your room to have time by yourself to just calm down.” It appealed to him because usually the other reason he would have a meltdown was because he was feeling overwhelmed. We didn’t use it as punishment and he still had his toys in there. More like a time of reflection, quiet and calming. It was actually quite effective.

But this time he had been in there too long. Usually he came out smiling in about 15 minutes and this was 30.

I walked down the hall feeling like I had a block of cement in my stomach. What could he have done in his room in that amount of time. Well he could’ve done lots. The worst thing? He could’ve opened his window, pushed his chair over and climbed out the window because something caught his eye. I started to feel panic well up from the block to my chest.

I opened the door and was surprised to see him all tucked into bed with the covers up to his neck. He was certainly calm but he seemed pleased with himself and this did not bode well.

“Hi honey.” I said quietly in that high pitched kindergarten teacher voice I used. He seemed to react well to that.

“Hi mommy.” He said quietly and calmly with a beatific smile on his face. The covers were still tucked under his chin and it was then I noticed all his clothes neatly piled on the floor beside his bed.

I slowly walked to the bed and continued, “Well sweetie what have you been doing all this time?”

“Nothing really. I colored a bit.” He calmly replied.

I was still nervous because he still had the covers tucked under his chin as if it was the most normal thing to do in the middle of the day.

I slowly moved forward, “Hmm why not get up and show me what you colored.” My hands reached for the covers and slowly pulled them off.

There under the quilt his small naked body was covered with purple marker. I felt my jaw drop open and I stuttered in search of something rational to say.

“ Don’t I smell good?” he asked. My eyes wandered from his neck, to his belly, his private parts and finally landed on his toes. He was literally colored from neck to toe and more so in some parts than others.

I was completely disarmed by his candor and the innocence of his question. “Uhhmm yes you do.” I noted the sheets were colored as well.

I scrubbed him for an hour until he complained of a burning sensation. It might’ve gone unnoticed by the general public except they started school swimming lessons that week. That was actually a blessing since it meant more exposure to cleansing water.

The sheets? Well I eventually cut them into rags as the sheets aged but whenever I have to pull out a rag and it has purple marker on it....well a smile just creeps over my face as I remember.

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