Drawing on the Walls: Why I Allow It

I let my daughters draw on the walls.

Hear me out.

The drawing used to drive me crazy, but I've found my solution.

The drawing used to drive me crazy, but I've found my solution.

Both of my children have shown an interest in art since they could pick up a crayon. Most children do, I think, and parents a little when we are being honest with ourselves.

A few weeks ago, I was yelling at my daughters for drawing on the walls again. This is an ongoing battle.

My oldest once drew with pen on every single door frame and when I scolded her, she said "But mommy, they are hearts! I want you to feel love all around you."

My heart.

But here's the thing. I want to be a rebel, Warehouse inspired mom, but I don't want their scribbles all over my walls. I want to encourage their wild woman dreams, but I also said no, ok??

You see my conflict.

So we struck a deal. A few weeks ago, I gave them permission to draw on one particular wall. Any wall, even in the public spaces, and (here's the kicker) they got to choose which wall

The view when I wake up. 

The view when I wake up. 

The Lesson and the logic of allowing your children to draw on the walls

I want to encourage them to break free of others' expectations. I want them to see opportunity where others see only a blank space.

But I also want them to understand the meaning of "no." Even if they don't like it, even if they believe in their vision, choosing to violate someone else's boundary is scary and dangerous.

It isn't about my saying "no." It's about teaching them to respect a boundary that I've set in place with my space. 

If I'm teaching them that their bodies belong to only them, that their consent is necessary and critical, that their right to define their boundaries is a lesson learned only under the direct counter influence of society,

then I also have to teach them how to respect someone else's consent.

These big lessons play out in ways that are developmentally appropriate. Right now, they understand colors and the walls. They understand their own overwhelming desire and how that desire runs counter to my boundaries. 

Our house belongs to all of us, but ultimately I work hard and pay for it. And so I allow them to choose their own personal space within this frame and do with it as they will. 

That physical space is teaching them to respect themselves and to respect others. 

At least, that's my hope.

How do you teach your children, your nieces and nephews, your cousins, your friends' children about the difficult concept of consent?



Other thoughts on teaching your children consent.

Children and art




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How to Discipline a Child: Wait

Radio Silence



How to Perfect Your Rhythm

My 2017 word is "rhythm." 

Rhythm is also circling seeds for the garden and reading about women

Rhythm is also circling seeds for the garden and reading about women

The last few months have been chaotic. I haven't been eating breakfast. I haven't been cooking or cleaning my house. I wake up in the middle of the night and drink leftover sweet tea because I'm thirsty, and then the sugar jumpstarts my heartbeat and I trip over my shoes and curse the universe.

I'm bad at routine, except for the parts that aren't healthy. I get angry when someone interrupts my sitting on the couch checking Instagram and half paying attention to Netflix time.  But you want to go out for a drink during the hour I'm supposed to go to meditation? I'm down. 

I don't know how to be in rhythm.

It is messing with my mind now. I'm angry for no reason and I have a hard time figuring out what are important tasks and what aren't.

There are so many notifications going off and the dog is asking me to fix his fence so he can play outside without the leash and I'm staring at unfinished books, both my own books and reading others. 

I have too many ideas and not enough focus.


Today, my rhythm is a cup of coffee. 


Here is my formula for rhythm:

1. Make Arabic Coffee and let the smell remind you of far away places.

2. Water your plants and clip a few leaves for tea.

3. Run your fingers over the ears of a sleeping dog beside you.


Later, when you take the dog out on the leash, let him linger over the scent in a weedy patch of grass, turn your face to the night sky and breathe.





Blessed Be the Welcome Retreat Into the Dark

A Simple Yule

White Poinsettia for Yule

White Poinsettia for Yule

Fill the cup.

Rain falls, and only 

the sound of a dog breathing

in sleep beside me 

is more prominent.


I see the sleigh come, 

working its way around the earth

but it will not stop at my house tonight.


Long ago the woman,

the winter crone,

walked the earth during those 

dark days.


The warmth of the tea

spreads through my hands

and I am her.



Interesting thoughts on Mother Christmas

The Winter Crone

To my lifelong friend on her birthday

When I was very young, I met a dark haired girl in a Sunday School classroom during bible school or some other religious activity and I've never let her go. It's been 28 years now, longer than I've known anyone in my entire life aside from my immediate family.

Birthday cupcake

I remember spending the night at her house for the first time, and getting up so early to watch cartoons that I thought it was still night time. We sat on the floor and I drifted in and out of half awake dreaming, the cartoons reaching out to me as if I were standing right beside them.

I remember playing "Trapped on an Island" a precursor to my obsession with off-grid living. I would harvest wild onions and carefully stir them into a pot with some mud and some rocks so that we would live and not starve. She bravely stood watch for a rescuing ship in the distance. I remember looking up and seeing her hair blowing in the wind, dark clouds gathering above us and feeling for one moment as if I could survive anything with her.



 I remember school.

I remember being alone, so alone, not understanding the behavior of other children, not understanding the social dynamics of what was happening in the school yard around me, but I remember her drawing a circle in the sand around a tree and telling me that we were safe here. We coordinated our clothes so that we looked the same, and gathered our beads in our pockets like talismans and nothing bad could touch me.

I remember later how I tried to melt into the background. I hadn't found my voice or my spine yet, but she was never afraid, and she would stand nose to nose with someone and explain herself in language I could only dream of. I have spent my life trying to communicate in my writing the way she did with the whole class silent around her.

I remember painting flowers on our knees. I remember promising that we would wear them to school the next day, but I chickened out. She never chickened out of anything. She wore her flower like a shield.

I remember her having the balls to write to Spin magazine about what covert racism looks like, and her own battle with deeply held beliefs in our little town. HBO told the story recently and I was so proud of her.

I remember sitting on her bed going off to college soon and her saying "We'll never be as close as we are now," and I waved that off, but she knew something that I didn't. She knew I would leave and try to forget everything that happened to me in my hometown as if that would change who I am, as if I could finally become what I wanted if no one knew me from the past.



These dreams that we have don't always come true.

She wanted to be a ballerina in New York City and I wanted to play in a band. These dreams haunt us sometimes and I left my hometown behind so that I could forget them.

I've been a shitty person, Anna. I've left each place I've been and all the people there, and I haven't looked back. I wasn't there when your children were born. I wasn't there when you experienced loss. I wasn't there when you went back to work. I wasn't there for whole pieces of your adult life.



I remember the first time I saw your firstborn.

I was just about to walk down the aisle to an unknown and painful future; I looked at his tiny face and realized the chasm between us. It should have been you standing next to me while I promised to love someone always, and instead you sat in the back as if I'd already forgotten who you were.

I remember for a long time hearing about your life through my mother through your mother. 

I have never even met your second.


I want to tell you a story.

A 17 year old girl has her heart broken for the very first time. She feels like she will die. She thinks that if this is life then nothing good will ever come; if this is life then she doesn't want any part of it.

So she floats in her neighbor's pool and cries.

Her best friend tells her that someday she'll find a person who will love her and never let go. That this life is meant to be lived only for herself; that she herself is the greatest love she'll ever experience. She is whole and she will survive.


The piece of my heart I tore out and gave you when I was 6 years old is unscathed and whole and alive. It beats and beats and beats.

I have looked for you in every person I've met since. I have watched for your face and your heart, but there will never be another in a thousand years.

And so let me affirm what you told me floating in the neighbor's pool that day: We are whole and we will survive.