Herald-Journal Herald and Journal, June 8, 1998

The writing is on the wall


I saw a novel idea at a cousin's graduation party last Sunday.

The inside walls of the family garage had been painted white. Markers were set out on tables so that friends and relatives of the graduate could write messages of congratulations. This is the first time I can recall a parent encouraging children to write on the wall.

Signing your name on a broad expanse of wall just seems to be irresistible to young children. My own children have done this several times. I have always thought that they should realize that when they sign their name, I will have a pretty good idea who left the message. Of course, a truly clever child would write a siblings name, so that they would get the blame instead.

It would be a rare parent who has not found the artwork of a budding Picasso scrawled somewhere in their house. We have had our share of pencil and crayon sketches here and there.

Our house was built around the turn of the century, and we have been remodeling it for the 29 years that we have lived in it. We have changed the rooms around a few times. We have torn out the old walls and put in sheetrock. Then we covered the sheetrock with paneling.

When we got tired of the dark paneling in the living room and took that out, we found some of the "original artwork", too. I took a picture of it to show our three oldest children what they did when they were younger.

When I looked at their drawings in the corner, I remembered that the couch had been placed kitty-corner there. It was the perfect place to draw, undetected by Mom and Dad.

The ultimate prize for writing on the wall has to go to my younger brother, Keith. He loved to write his name. He had a particular fondness for the white wall in the hallway. Keith was finally told by Mother, "I don't want to see anyone write on these walls with crayon again." And he didn't.

The next time I came over to visit, Mother showed me Keith's latest handiwork. Printed neatly on the wall was the name Keith, in bright red nail polish.

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