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Make-up test

The shades of pinks, oranges, chocolate browns mimic candies and sunsets.

Some of the lip paints have glitter spun through the sticky cream. The sparkles catch light and curious little girls. It’s a big, light-tight net.


I can’t blame Beatrix. If I were a 3.5 year old with knowledge of nine dainty squares of potted paints in mama’s bathroom drawer, I’d have to investigate.

When I discovered what she had done my first reaction was eye-rolling annoyance, but not anger. I have a small daughter who wants to be like me. It’s not shocking she’d visit my makeup drawer on some quiet afternoon.

Why be angry over ravaged Avon?

With my older children, I would have been far more irritated. I would have taken their destruction personally, slipping into a preoccupation with wondering where I went wrong and if their hijinks were going to lead to a life of vandalism and disrespect.

In other words, total over-reaction.

Yes, she should keep her busy mitts out of my stuff. That understanding is slow to come. It wasn’t long ago she was in the throes of toddlerhood where everything is “mine” and never, ever yours.

Beatrix is able to grasp where she ends and everyone else begins, but it takes discipline to fully embrace this attitude. Think of how many adults still don’t understand this concept.

Other people have rights to keep their belongings clean, intact, and under their ownership. This makeup mining incident was the perfect opportunity to talk with her about boundaries and to build empathy.

I told her the lip colors she ruined were a Christmas present from my mama. I was happy when I opened that present because I liked it and because someone special gave it to me. Did she understand?

I think she understood. She said she did, but time will tell.

I remember playing with makeup, too. I also raided my mother’s jewelry boxes. I can’t promise everything was returned in the same condition it was in when I first pulled the baubles over my head or up my arm.

I still like to look at my mom’s jewelry when we visit. She has a talent for making gorgeous earrings and necklaces. If she had been harsh or cruel about how I mistreated her things, though, I wouldn’t wish to bother. It would be a source of painful memories and that would be a genuine shame.

I don’t want to kill Beatrix’s trust in my steady judgment by being a fire hose putting out a lone birthday candle. I can be the gentle puff, exhaling the candle out when necessary.

Which candle will be easier to relight?

14 comments to Make-up test

  • Sweet wisdom.
    .-= jenni´s last blog ..Metaphor Monday: Oil =-.

  • “I don’t want to kill Beatrix’s trust in my steady judgment by being a fire hose putting out a lone birthday candle. I can be the gentle puff, exhaling the candle out when necessary.

    Which candle will be easier to relight?”

    Beautiful, Gretchen. Good for me to remember for the times when my default setting is to overreact. Thank you.

  • You are so wise Gretchen, I love reading your posts. I over react regularly and my poor almost 3.5 year old gets the brunt of it. I pray daily for more patience.
    .-= Rachael´s last blog ..8 months today! =-.

  • edj

    So true! I wish I’d had this wisdom when my kids were younger.
    .-= edj´s last blog ..More Meknes =-.

  • amy

    Very true, I’m working on this.

  • Oh it takes many many “kid years” to get understanding like this!!! That’s why some things get easier the more kids you have!!! You are so right about the “many adults” in this world who have not grasped the “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine… in fact everything is mine…” But they expect their kids to have grasped this on the dot!!! Lovely post I hope little B learns a whole lot more loving life-lessons from her sweet mama.
    .-= se7en´s last blog ..The Week That Was – 2.44 =-.

  • Oh this makes me teary. I understand and I remember what it was like to be like Beatrix right then. 🙂

    .-= Adventures In Babywearing´s last blog ..Art makes a cameo appearance in your life every day. =-.

  • I think you passed the test! I keep reminding myself of the time when I was about 8 (old enough to have known better) and I cut my denim skirt just to see how sharp the sewing scissors were!
    .-= Kristin´s last blog ..Phone Call Machine =-.

  • Great post. i’ve actually read a few discipline books… not that Judah really needs them yet, but I like to be prepared. Plus I’m technically on a “reading elective” about infant and child care, so i figured I did actually need to read something. Anyway…it seems to me that the temptation in most of these books is to over-react. I want to raise Godly children, but I also don’t want to, as you say, be a firehose putting out a birthday candle. What a great way to put it.
    .-= Aubrey´s last blog ..Giggle. =-.

  • Wisdom. Thank you, Gretchen.

  • Such wisdom Gretchen.
    .-= Heth´s last blog ..Packing =-.

  • It’s one of the joys of parenting as we get older, I think–this permission we give ourselves to relax a little. Last night my daughter carved her name into my car, and I’ll be dad-blasted if my first response was actually to LAUGH. This can only be attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit (or, perhaps, my creeping insanity). Either way, it was a sweet moment.

  • Oh man – at least she didn’t taste test. They look good enough to eat to me!
    .-= Mary @ Parenthood´s last blog ..May 3, 2010 =-.

  • Rachel Chip

    wow. I LOVE love those last three sentences. I am just beginning to experience my first tastes of disciple with my first baby – he just turned 1 a few days ago. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

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