“Use a Sharpie!”

“Because, okay?  I just know these things, so you should trust me.”

We read.
We read a lot. 
Our kids cannot not remember getting new books to add to their reading collection.
And what’s the first thing you do to your new book, before heading out the door to school with it?
You brand it.
Yep, put your moniker right on it, big and bold enough for all passersby to know it belongs to you.

The challenge came as no surprise by the time our third son joined the party.

“Why, mommy?”

“Because, you have to use this pen so your name will not rub off.”

“But I want to use my purple marker.”

“You can’t use your markers, because they’ll  just smear.  You need to use the black Sharpie.”

“But I can just write my name with this pencil.”

“No, you cannot.  It won’t show up good enough.”

“What about this purple crayon?”

“Honey, no, you cannot use crayon, it might rub off, too.  Just use the Sharpie.”

After exhausting all other options, he sat down at the kitchen table, picked up the Sharpie and started to write his name on the cover of his new book.  I felt satisfied in this win, even though I felt like I was having this same exchange every time he got a new book.  After flipping through the mail and putting up a few groceries, I noticed that he had switched the Sharpie for the purple marker when I wasn’t looking.

“No!  See how it smears when you rub your hand across it?  I told you to use the Sharpie!”

There are things we teach our children.  There are things we’ve experienced, things we’ve learned through our own successes and mistakes.  There are things we want to keep our kids from having to go through.  So this particular time, the lesson is not a big deal.  Eventually, through trial and error, he would have figured out why it’s best to use a Sharpie for marking ownership of the book.  Actually, he did.  See, even though I tried to get him to trust me on this one, and just use the Sharpie in the first place, his inquiring mind wanted to figure out the “why” part all by himself.  He’s now ten years old.  His brothers are 14 and 19.  Do they listen to me all the time?  No.  But they know that they can trust my advice, and guidance, and that I would not tell them anything to cause them harm.  There are some things in life that they just have to figure out on their own, regardless of my parental coaching.

I’m pledging today, and writing it with a Sharpie, that I will not use the phrase, “I told you so”.  🙂

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