Editor's note: Jill Adams is a professional writer based in Fort Wayne.
One of my favorite childhood books was “Harold and the Purple Crayon.” So, when I saw the beloved tale sitting on a shelf in the bookstore recently, I decided to buy it for my own kids.
That night, as I read the story to them, my 3-year-old son's eyes sparkled. When I was finished, he reached out his hand.
“I read ‘Harold?'” he asked sweetly.
“Of course!” I told him, thrilled he had enjoyed the book so much.
He took it from me, and thumbed through the pages with a thoughtful smile.
“He is a big fan of that book,” my husband said as we watched him.
“I know!” I said enthusiastically. “He must be like me; I used to love reading that story and imagining how cool it would be to draw my own world.”
Little did I know, my son was interested in taking it a little further than I ever had.
When I put him down for his nap the next day, he closed his eyes and seemed to drift off immediately. But after 30 minutes, something told me to check in on him.
“Oh, no!” I exclaimed as I opened his door.
There was my son, with his perpetual smile, surrounded by walls that had been drawn all over with crayon. And, unlike Harold, my son hadn't stuck with one color — he had created a veritable rainbow of random drawings on every hard surface in his room. In total shock, I sank to the floor and surveyed the scene. This was not good.
“Harold!” my son exclaimed. Instinctively, I glanced over at the book, which was lying open on the floor (for inspiration I assumed).
An avid reader myself, I should have remembered that everyone interprets stories slightly differently. Apparently, my young child had considered it a Do-It-Yourself manual.
I took a deep breath and stood back up. I had approximately 45 minutes until my daughter awoke and my oldest son returned from school. I had to act fast. Turning on my computer, I plugged “how to remove crayon from walls” into the search engine. The results popped up in front of me.
“Toothpaste?!” I wondered out loud.
Deciding it was worth a try, I ran upstairs, got a tube of toothpaste and got to work. The directions said to smear paste liberally on the crayon marks. By the time I was finished applying it to my son's walls, my eyes were watering from minty freshness.
“I really hope this works buddy,” I said to my son, who had been watching the entire process.
“Harold!” he exclaimed again, obviously feeling I had contributed to his work.
I couldn't help but return his smile before I got to the task of scrubbing. To my great relief, the crayon began to disappear. By the time I had made it around the room, my arms were shaking from the effort. But I had made it — the room was clean, and I had accomplished it before anyone was the wiser.
That night, my husband came into our sons' room as I was tucking them in.
“Hey, guys, I brought Harold!” he told them, holding up the book.
“Uh, let's do another story tonight, OK?” I said with feigned nonchalance.
“OK,” he said with a shrug, taking the dinosaur book I handed him.
I left him to read the story, but as I made my way down the stairs, I heard him call after me.
“Why does it smell like mint in here?”
I burst into laughter.
“Don't ask!” I responded.
He wisely took my advice. And then, I put “Harold and the Purple Crayon” away on a high shelf indefinitely. Or at least until the mint smell goes away.