I have birthed a tagger. A graffiti artist. A multi-surface decorator. An ink addict.
More than any other of the children, she enjoys to write upon things, and she’s not terribly discriminating as to the things. Even Eldest, who passed through her cephalopod people art phase at the tender age of 18 months and is now quite a good artist, did not write on all and sundry. My youngest, though… I have a good relationship with the tinting people at the paint store, and go through those Mr Clean Miracle Sponges like they’re candy.
In pursuit of some way to keep sane, and still satisfy her need to make a mark on the world, we’re looking at a project: an enormous (to a rather small kid) chalkboard on the stair wall in the kitchen.
Chalk has many benefits:
1: It won’t kill her when she eats it. And she inevitably will taste it several times. I’m mentally prepared for the multi-colored poo, and will not freak out too much.
2: It isn’t permanent on anything. Not her skin, or the walls, or the table, or books, or her siblings, the bedspreads, or even the floor. When my Tall, Dark, and Slightly-Neanderthal Husband was still a practicing paramedic, he used to play “Crime Scene” with the older kids, using chalk to draw nifty body outlines. Our budding Picasso’s lines won’t be so organized or identifiable, but I know they’ll vacuum up easily.
3: It will give us a chance to see if she’s really left-handed.
All the rest of us are righties (though I had a few months of left-handed-ness after a tendon repair during college, and managed alright; I can still switch hit with utensils without a problem.)
Youngest is showing signs of impending southpaw status. She grips her little fork in her left fist at meals, or else holds the spoon in her right hand and shovels in food with her left fingers. She holds all writing implements in her left hand. She manipulates things left-handed.
I’m curious if she will become ambidextrous with an easy, accessible world of chalk, or if she will become a more dedicated lefty. This freaks out TDSN*-Husband, just a little. Since I loved watching left-handed friends write, I’m kind of interested to see how it goes! Hmmm…. maybe we can nickname her Sinister, and call her sister Dexter? (Somehow, I don’t think my Spicy child will stand for being called Dexter. She’s really big into personal dignity.)
At the very least, I’m interested to see if her tagging ways slow down just a tad. Otherwise, I’m going to start a little forced-labor camp with my toddler, and cut those Magic Erasers in half so her tiny little left hand can hold them easily. Hey, if she can make the mark, she’s tall enough to reach and clean it off, right? (Thanks, Mom, for that inspired bit of wisdom, lo, these many years ago.)
So, the project:
1 piece of smooth plywood from the home store, cut 2’x4′.
2″ molding to finish off the edges
1 quart chalkboard paint (if I’m painting) or a can of chalkboard spray paint (if TDSN-Husband is doing it)
0000 (ultra-fine) steel wool to rub the board smooth between coats of paint. Steel wool makes a bit of a mess, but it really works better for this project than sandpaper would. You’ll get an almost slate-like finish!
White oil-based enamel for the moldings
Chalks! And little wall-mount cups or something to hold them, because adding a chalk tray along the bottom of the board is just asking for the toddler to try and climb it.
The completion couldn’t be easier: paint the chalking surface, let it dry thoroughly and rub with fine steel wool between coats. Paint and affix the molding to the edges and hanging hardware on the back. Find studs, and hang the board. “Prime” the chalking surface by coating the whole thing with chalk (on its side, like you’re doing a gravestone rubbing. What? Not everyone does those for fun? Well, Mom’s a genealogist. We had weird vacations.)
Erase the priming chalk, and off we go. Total cost for this project has been about $25, and that’s without coupons or special sales.
Lefty the Tagger approves this project.
*TDSN: Tall, Dark, and Slightly Neanderthal