We can’t have nice things

There I was, 6:45 am in the morning in our dining room staring at the dining room table. I found myself focusing on breathing quietly while surveying the damage from our 3 year old’s pencil-carving-into-the-dining-room-table project. My wife was stunned, barely able to process as she was in “5 hours of sleep – no coffee yet” mode.

As I stood there trying to channel my own “inner orange rhino”. I had a flashback to 8 years ago when we moved into our place and shopped around for weeks trying to find dining room furniture. Prices ranged from $300 to $5,000 for a dining room table. We were trying to conceive at the time, so we knew children would be in our lives. My wife said to me “we can’t have nice things now, we have to think about what children do to things, think about spilled milk, crayons, and general child-related incidents.”

We bought the $299 dining room table from Ikea.

This is what I was thinking about as I was eying the new charcoal gray design/décor added to the table and the guilty-as-sin child sat frozen, glued to the chair, pencil still in hand.

We disciplined, discussed and leveled consequences. He seemed to understand. And he seemed scared even without (too much) yelling.

As I turned towards the coffee pot, I let go a deep breath and said to my wife…

“you were right, we can’t have nice things.”

Before we had our second child (and before I discovered the Orange Rhino), I came downstairs to a different 3 year old standing in our living room with purple marker all over his hands AND ALL OVER THE LIVING ROOM RUG AND BAY WINDOW SEAT announcing “look mommy I drew roads!” as proud as can be.

I yelled. I really yelled.


His pride quickly went to shock, then confusion, then tears. How could I not be proud of him for the roads he drew all over the living room?!?

I was able to get the marker out of the rug (for the most part) but was at least happy that it was a Home Depot special, not a Persian rug.

And when our coffee table bit the dust a few years ago, we set our sights on the cheapest, yet sturdiest one we could find. It had to be able to hold at least 2 boys-pretending-to-be-superheroes but totally disposable when those boys hit 9 years old. Our friends who don’t have kids nicely ask when we are going to replace our coffee table (it’s a wee bit shabby) and I respond with “when the boys are in college.”

I know this probably sounds like I let my children run amok all over the house but I thought we’d been pretty good about limiting their access to anything disastrous. Living with 2 energetic boys has definitely taught us that just when you think you’ve covered everything, they will find a loophole and they will jump on it.

The dining room table story occurred in the middle of a pretty chaotic week this week. But I did find some solace when I stumbled upon THIS SITE and found that I’m definitely not alone.

Like these parent victims:

PHOTO CREDIT - sh*t my kids ruined
PHOTO CREDIT – sh*t my kids ruined

And then there’s this:

PHOTO CREDIT - The Financial Perks of Being Childless
PHOTO CREDIT – The Financial Perks of Being Childless

and this:

PHOTO CREDIT - sh*t my kids ruined
PHOTO CREDIT – sh*t my kids ruined

So, I am not alone. And now at least I can refocus my yelling into searching for a camera to share on a website dedicated to kids like mine.

10 thoughts on “We can’t have nice things

  1. Holly and all–

    Love your story. I am the mother of three adult daughters and now the grandmother of three adorable munchkins, who….are budding multi-media artists. I recall when my oldest daughter thought it would be fun to plunk her lovely sculpted plastic fish into the toilet. Consequences: a new toilet bowl. Then she decided to do a multicolor spiral with a rainbow of crayons on the doors of her bedroom. Consequences: new paint job. (Waste of money) Then she decided it would be fun to create a wading pool in the bathroom by stuffing a washcloth in the sink and turning on the faucet. Consequences: Lots of towels soaking it up and a Mama who decided that it would be preferable to simply seat her on the toilet lid with an order not to move, while I mopped up as opposed and told her between my tightly clenched teeth that this wasn’t a good place for a wading pool. The other two somehow didn’t manage to have such fun projects OR simply escaped detection. They made up for it in other ways as teenagers. However I remember a zillion years ago at age 3 or 4 taking my parents’ pen knife from their solid maple desk and carving my name into the top. Yes, I did get a spanking for that. But I took a certain pride in visiting that desk when my Mom wasn’t around and seeing my J A N carved in pre-K fashion. My parents had it repaired when I went to college, and it now sits in an upper bedroom of our home! Parenthood is not for the faint of heart! Enjoy!

  2. I have 4 kids and yes… I have nice things…. because I teach since they was small to use papers for draw… and put all those nice creations in a magic box where things become real… parents you need more imagination to deal with this… of course I have my home with many gifts in the walls and for this reason I gave a wall to the baby of home (he have 6 years old) for his “fine arts”… so he decided make an art gallery and receive payment from all my visitors who can get a piece of art for one dollar… my kid enjoy with this and my visitors enjoy it much more!!

  3. Come on, let’s admit it: it usually happens when the OTHER parent is on duty (at least at my house.) Which means that there are actually two people to scowl at.

  4. Oh gosh I totally hear you! When we buy new stuff we always have to consider whether it could possibly be ruined by our toddler!

  5. I have decided to hold off on truly decorating until the kids are older since the living/dinning/kitchen is a perma playroom! And my son is into everything as well!

  6. HAHA!!! Hysterical. Nate recently had an explosion of “writing skills” at school, and as a fun scavenger hunt for us, secretly wrote “Nate” (with BEAUTIFUL lower case “e”s, I might add!) all. over. the. house. Under rugs, on chairs, under the overhang of the counter in the kitchen. I had to pretend to be mad though, because a) it came right off, and b) I was so darn happy he was finally interested in writing that I hardly cared, really. However, the time (when he was close to three) that he ground chocolate pudding into the beige corduroy couch I was less happy. Thank goodness for my cheap Ikea couch with the removable, machine washable slipcover. Yup. At least a decade before we buy nice things over here.

  7. Yes, yes, yes! my son got a hold of a bottle of red nail polish and painted the windowsill in his room and the walls all the way down the hallway. Hole in the bedroom door from knocking too hard. Which I later found out was from throwing a package of frozen hotdogs at his brother..
    it didn’t get much better when they got older,the kitchen knives made great drum sticks on the porcelain sink in the bathroom …
    After all three were grown and gone, we purchase nice furniture and put almost white carpet in the living room. Now we have grandkids…
    you know the rest of the story

  8. We are so down with the college plan! My daughter, with her “elective” fine motor skill problem decided that earlier this week would be a great time to overcome that by writing all over the walls. I am sure we could swap stories all night. Cheap/ free/ hand-me-downs, whatever we can afford to replace until college.

  9. Haha, I hear you on this. My home has gone from a nice home to having NOTHING because I have gotten rid of every piece of adult furniture…part of that has to do with the fact that my husband is a total SLOB and what’s the point of having nice stuff if its covered in cr*p, but mainly it’s because my dog and kids wreak havoc all over the house!

Share Some Comment Love

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s