time for house rules

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Jena, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. Jena

    Jena New Member

    i came home today after difficult child's therapist appointment. to find boyfriend's daughter had written her named on our living room wall in pink marker (not washable marker).

    Upset doesnt' even begin to explain how i felt. my difficult child does not do these things, nor does my easy child. yet this isn't the first time this has occured, yet now we are in the new home.

    yea yea i know id have to be totally dillussional thinking of taking his 3 kids on anytime soon.

    so there are house rules yet i dont' think their getting it. i feel badly that i have to post this because i dont' want difficult child to think she has done anything wrong because lately she's been handling things fairly well and our meltdowns are down to like 4 a day which for us is great. some days are worse, yet shes' polite would never dream of writing on a wall ever.

    so i wrote house rules up just now. basics no name calling, or hitting, or pushing, no writing on walls or furniture, clean up toys, no sneaking snacks, be respectful, use your words.

    the only conclusion i can come to is that they are allowed to do this at their home.
  2. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I wouldn't assume that just yet. Mind you, I don't think bio-mom is going to win any parent of the year awards and she might have caused them to have worse behavior, but I would caution you not to let those feelings about her interfere with being objective toward rules, punishments, etc. Even if it is true, I don't think it will help your effectiveness as a parent to take the "your mom must have let you do this" approach. There are 2 sides to every story- these kids might have been driving bio-mom up the wall, too. (Not that this would justify verbal abuse or biting, etc) I assume you are talking about the 7yo here? Of course, she is old enough to know better about writing on a wall, too.

    I think posting house rules is a good idea and just sticking to a "this is how we handle things, rules we live by, and so forth" approach without getting into comparisoms or whatever might be good.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    House rules are house rules. One thing that kids are capable of learning REALLY fast (difficult children learn it just as fast) is that rules at one house can be very different to rules at another house. When grandma says, "He's not like that when I mind him," she could be right.

    So if they do that at someone else's house - well, they are someone else's walls. Your walls are not their walls, your walls are a different colour and in a different place. They have no visual cue to say, "This is my wall, I have written on it before."

    You need to make it VERY clear that this is not going to happen. If possible, get the child to remove the marker. If that means the child has to scrub and scrub and it doesn't come off - so be it. Tell the child that if she put the marker there, she has to take the marker off and without damaging the paintwork. You can even work alongside her, both of you, to show her that you are willing to support her. But she has the responsibility of fixing what she has messed up.

    Because I've posted here, husband is likely to be along and he may have some suggestions for you, to try and remove even permanent marker. He's a genius with things like this. So, honey - any ideas?

  4. Jena

    Jena New Member

    klmno - i totally agree with-you and thank you for catching my nastiness lol. i feel like carp today so when i saw my wall tagged up again i got mad and umm nasty. i would never say anything to the kids, yet boyfriend has to step up also he is way too lacked when it comes to being with the kids with-o me. tmrw he's on his own with all 5 of them, oh man isall i can say and he got stuck working all day today because one of his employees grandparents wound up in hospital.

    marg - i agree and good point. yet should it be me or dad cleaning it up with her? silly question i know. i find in my own experience kids most kids like rules, structure. i know for fact that his children are not given any simple rules. their actually surpressed on many levels, their unplugged all week no tv, no video games, nothing. they took away hbo now as well. so even weekends have no tv in it or movie time or anything. there is no junk food whatsoever in their home, and their home is now vegetarian suddenly because his ex's partner is a vegetarian.

    so when we get them their ready to bounce off the wall. she's either too laxed or hits them with too many rules. it's always changing also it's never the same.

    it's crazy..................................
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Don't worry Jen- I know it's one thing to vent on here and a completely different thing to yell it out to the kids. I brought this up because when my mom married my step-father and his son first came to live with us, my mom was always b**ching about the bio-mom- and yes, she was a mean-spirited alcoholic (the bio-mom). BUT my mom also came to learn that my sttep-bro was a real handful and I think my mom came to the conclusion that he could drive anyone to drink. LOL! No one justified the way the bio-mom was, but my step-bro had to be dealt with- without focusing on what his mom did wrong or how she was inept- that just gave him excuses and made him resent anyone who talked about his mom and was really a destruction for the family. When the focus changed to the way things needed to be in OUR house, it seemed much more effective and positive for everyone.

    PS- Oh yeah- boyfriend definitely needs to be stepping up to the plate. I realize he has a job- but so do you and he's got to be the primary authority figure for his kids.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2009
  6. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I can just imagine how upset you must have been. Was this the 7 year old or 13 year old? Not that at either age it is o.k. just maybe more understandable at 7 than 13. I used to get so upset when difficult child would write on the walls and that was only in pencil. I hope tomorrow is a better day. Hugs.
  7. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member


    Permanent markers can be a b***h to clean up, usually because anything that removes the marker also removes the paint. If the paint is a mat or eggshell finish then the dyes in the marker ink will have soaked into the paint film like it was tissue paper.

    You do need to remove as much as possible though or the dye will simply bleed through any freshly applied paint. It all depends on who owns the wall (you or a landlord) and whether you have any paint left for touching up. You can try solvents like ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol or mineral turpentine. I have used the chemical names because different countries call them different commercial names. You will almost be able to get cleaning agents that use these easily but be sure to follow any safety directions on the labels. All are flammable.

    These will probably shift most of the dye but, even if they don't take the surface off the paint, there will still a trace mark from the marker which will need painting over. The paint is almost certainly going to be damaged permanently in some way. As Marg said - make her help you (or whoever ends up 'supervising') so she knows how much work she has created.

    difficult child 3 broke a window at my mother's house. Obviously he couldn't repair it but he forfeited play while I did the repair. The couple of hours out his play time was much more instructive than the most painful flogging (even we did smack) would have been.

    Marg's Man
  8. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    I most certainly WOULD have the child clean the walls as best they can. If it is the 7yo I would work with-her. If it is the older one I owuld get her started and be there so she can't jsut walk away.

    Either way, the child will need gloves to clean up this mess. You can get a couple of cleaners, one is called goof off, that should take this off. They WILL take the surface off the other paint, but it is the ONLY way to get teh dye out. Rubbing alcohol will also work, at least it has for me.

    I think the rule needs to not be "do not write on walls or furniture" but rather "write ONLY on paper". The way you phrased it left a LOT of things that they could write on and damage, like the tv, the other kids' toys, your special mementos and pictures, etc.... See the difference??? I learned this on the HARD way. Jessie actually colored one of our cat's tummies GREEN with markers when she was 3. I have NO idea how she got the cat to sit still for it, but he would do ANYTHING she wanted. It was a HUGE mess, and at 3 she couldn't clean it up. But if we didn't clean the cat, well, he would have gotten really sick. Luckily these WERE washable markers, LOL!

    I am sorry they are doing things like this. I expect they are pretty resentful that your kids have access to all these things that they don't. Esp the younger one.

    As for biomom, I know you won't say things about her to the kids. But is she perhaps trying to increase the kids' resentment of you by telling her kids it is OK to do these things at "dad's house but not here" ? I have seen it happen, and it is an UGLY way of controlling your ex. But there is NOTHING you can do except present a written list of rules and clear consequences. If you damage it, you clean it/fix it/replace it and Jen and Dad get to pick which one or ones. If it can't be cleaned then you will have to fix it or pay to have it fixed. That kind of thing.

    Also, if they have to pay to replace or fix something, it should either be with labor or with money they earn doing work for you or dad. NOT with allowance or $$ from birthday or gifts. because mom will just replace that $$, or grandparents will. Then the child learns no lesson. Well, they learn it is no big deal to damage stuff because there is no real consequence.

    I am sorry it came to this. The kids have no idea what having your own house means to you though. they HAVE a house with their mom. They problem also think if you weren't in the picture Dad would still be at home with them - no matter how untrue this is, how long he had left before you started dating him. That is what their minds think.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Just reiterating - the rubbing alcohol susie mentions is the ispropyl alcohol husband (Marg's Man) mentioned. He used to work for years in the paint industry and specialised in graffiti removal, so he really does know his stuff here.

    As for the moral side of it - I really don't think it matters whether it's you or your partner who supervises/suppports the clening effort, but certianly their father should be reinforcing your will in this, whichever of you gets involved. I think he should be getting involvedalso, maybe both of you as a team so the kid(s) can see that you are both in accord on this. Otherwise it can be seen as an opportunity to keep misbehaving to cause friction between you.

    I had problems with difficult child 1 & easy child 2/difficult child 2 (when younger) leaving fecal stripes on the walls in the loo, they would be careless wiping themselves and then wipe it on the walls. I kept saying, "Use the toilet paper to wipe your fingers, then go wash your hands," but still the walls got decorated. So I fetched a scrubbing brush and they both got clean-up duty. Each blamed the other but I had watched to see when it happened and frankly, they were both equally guilty, so they got to take turns until I could be sure it was only one of them - then that child alone got wall-washing duty. I did help a bit, I talked them through it mostly, because after all they were only about 6 -8 years old at the time. In difficult child 1's bedroom it was clear he was the only culprit, the problem there was squashed mosquito corpses on the ceilnig, difficult child 1 insisted they had to be left there as a deterrent to other mozzies! I had to stand in the doorway and insist that mosquitoes don't have enough neurons to have the capacity to recognise deterrent when confronted with it.

    Also a very strong suggestion - for now, go through the house and remove all permanent markers. Lock them away. I would also consider - was this an act of pure thoughtlessness, or was there malice in it, choosing the marker that would do the most damage and the room where the damage would have the most impact on you.

    Susie's suggestion of expressing the rule of "write only on blank paper provided for the purpose" is better than "do not write on walls" because if there is a way to get around the spirit of the rule, kids will find a way. I also think a really effective consequence would be to keep ALL writing implements under lock and key, they can only be used under supervision after earning the privilege. Certainly if this happens again, I would implement this rule. Pencils only, perhaps, because pencil on the wall can be easily removed.

    If necessary, convert your home to a plastic-coated padded cell until the kids learn to respect other people's space.

  10. aeroeng

    aeroeng Mom of Three

    I had the best luck with hair spray for permanent markers. Mr. Cleans magic eraser works the best on crayons.
  11. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    ::sigh:: I feel for you! difficult child 1 wrote all over the walls in the downstairs bedroom. Fabric paint, crayon, indelible marker, white-out, lipstick, eyeliner, nail polish and regular washable marker.

    Let me tell you, washable marker isn't, on eggshell paint.

    She used a Mr. Clean magic eraser on it and gave up when the eraser fell apart.

    We tried isopropyl alcohol, Goo Gone, denatured alcohol, Windex, even a wire scrub brush.

    Then we painted over it with KILZ which is a primer. Three coats.

    Then - I am not joking here - five coats of white paint.

    There is a small pink heart on one wall that just keeps bleeding through. And a swear word in white-out that does not match the paint. We gave up.

    When we painted her room upstairs to help with the anxiety issues (it seems to have worked, somehow), in white with black and red stripes, we used semigloss all the way. Looks tacky, but boy does it reflect light, and you can even wipe off indelible marker easily with Windex. Drives her crazy!

    She also wrote all over the shower in pencil, crayon and indelible marker. We use a bio-friendly cleaner called Krud Kutter for other stuff - and it worked on that (plastic, not tile). There is only the faintest shadow of indelible marker now. Fortunately this is the downstairs-in-the-basement shower that only she uses.

    She doesn't write on the walls much anymore (or anything else except paper and her hands and arms). She told me (only last weekend) that she used to get in trouble with biomom because when biomom told her to do "this", and we didn't go off the deep end and message biomom, that apparently difficult child 1 didn't do "this" well enough...
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Actually, there's some good suggestions in that - if you absolutely must repaint the walls after this, do a bit of investigating first (I know husband will advise you too) and use something that will allow for easy graffiti removal.

    The eggshell paint - like a lot of surface finishes, especially if applied thinly or the older, more 'natural' finishes, the graffiti actually can be absorbed into the surface coating and will bleed through.

    On the subject of felt pens and the way the ink bleeds, you can set up an experiment with the kids on colours, pigments and how they are combined. Use water-soluble markers in a range of cours (get the kids to choose the colours) and you get paper (blotting paper is great, but any absorbent paper will do, even from the printer). Draw a line in pencil about 3" up from the end of the sheet of paper, and put big dots of colour 1" apart along this line. Then stand the sheet of paper in water (you either lean the sheet of paper against the side of the dish so the paper is upright, or staple the paper into a cylinder with the pencil line one one end of the cylinder). The cylinder method is a bit better because what you want, is the water to wick up through the paper, against gravity. The water carries the ink pigments with it to a certain point according to the weight of each individual colour. You will see the different colours separate out, the lighter ones going up higher. Black is especially interesting, it's often made up of three or more colours.

    At the end of the experiment, draw a pencil line to indicate how far up the ater went, then draw a pencil line around each colour that has separated out. You do thisbecause as it dries, some may fade.

    If they like this, then you can go to town with a chlorophyll experiement, but this is a little more complex. You first need to get some green leaves off the tree and put them in a blender with some hot water. Alternatively, chop the leaves up and soak them in some alcohol (rubbing alcohol is fine for this; if you're rich you can use vodka. if you're really rich, use gin.)

    THen make the paper cylinder as above (although because you're only using one substance, a paper strip should be OK). Dip one end in the solution and have the solution climb up the paper. You will see that chlorophyll is made up of different components and differentcolours which separate out. Different leaves (with different shades of green) may give you some differenr results. Howver, some of thecomponents are very pale, a UV light can show them up a little more, before they fade out entirely.

    The moral of the experiment - the ink in felt pens will bleed through and can be very concentrated. They can also be complex, according to which colour was used. So never expect an easy clean-up, felt pen inks can be surprising.

    Those new 'magic eraser' sponges are great, if the ink hasn't penetrated into the paint they are worth a try. But don't use anything other than water on them, they could dissolve with the wrong solvent. Crayon is a wax, it should rub off. Alcohol will risk dissolving a wax which WOULD remove it but could also carry the pigment into a surface. You can also remove wax with heat and absorbent paper - again, I would try the magic eraser first, with a wax crayon. There is also a chance it could work with permanent marker, as long as it hasn't penetrated the paint. If it has, then before repainting, sand it back until the mark is gone. If you have repainted and the mark is bleeding through, then again - sand it back before you ever try to add any more coats. Sorry - you may even have to sand back to below the undercoat, if the ink has run through.

  13. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    One thing I forgot to mention, that I found after we painted difficult child 1's room. If the child really like to write on walls, why not create one wall that is specifically for that purpose? Chalkboard paint isn't much more expensive than semigloss in colors and is really, really popular with kids. Plus they get to write on it. We also have sheets of dry-erase plastic that are like Post-It notes and can be moved. They're kind of expensive but we use them in the kitchen for notes - they are cheaper than a regular board and they can be moved.