The Toddler and The Pink TV

By Tracy G. Cassels

It was a Saturday that started like any other Saturday.  Breakfast, showers, and plans for the day.  I was busy writing while my husband was taking a shower and my 3-year-old daughter was playing.  Well, I heard her singing to herself and assumed she was playing with a puzzle or her cars or her toys.  She was happy and occupying herself and that’s all that mattered.  Until…

“TA DA!  Come look Mommy!”

Thinking I’m about to see a masterpiece of blocks or a new contraption for her stuffed animals or dolls that she likes to build, I walk into the living room.  Only there’s nothing on the ground.  I turn to the right and see my daughter with a paintbrush in hand, a huge smile on her face, and she’s motioning me to look at the TV.

Oh. My. Goodness.

“It’s pink Mommy!”

“Uh…. Yes?  Yes.  It’s very pink sweetie.”

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Our flat screen TV is pink.  PINK!

I smile at my girl because how can you not?  She’s just so darn proud of herself, but all I can think of is how we’re going to fix this.

“Okay.  Let’s put the paint away.  We should go get daddy.”

I know I must keep dad calm.  I know he’s mentioned not to use things like Windex on the TV, but I realize in this moment that I have no idea what I can use to clean it (if it cleans) and so off we go upstairs.  Hubby is getting dressed, looking nice and relaxed after a nice shower.  My daughter and I are holding hands and she’s still very pleased with her work of art.

“Um, babe… how do you get paint off the TV?”

Without a word, my husband looks at us both and very slowly walks out of the room.  We wait a moment and decide to go down after him.  He’s at the TV with paper towel and water.  And wouldn’t you know?  Our TV wasn’t so pink anymore.

It only took a few minutes to clean, dad stayed calm, and we had a little chat about what can and cannot be painted in the house (though I imagine we’ll be cleaning something else up soon enough as I’m sure we weren’t exhaustive in our discussion).  I now can look back on the experience and find it funny.  But most importantly, I learned a few things that day that you may want to keep in mind in case you find yourself faced with a pink TV and a very happy toddler…

5 Things to Remember when Your Toddler Paints Your TV
(Or is Otherwise Making a Mess)

  1.  Always buy washable paint.  I am forever indebted to Crayola for having paint that comes off everything.  I always knew in my head that washable was better, but sometimes the cheap stuff at the dollar store is too tempting.  Not anymore, and luckily this time we did have the washable stuff – I can’t imagine what would have happened if we didn’t.

  2. Our children are scientists.  Whether we like it or not, they will explore as much as they can and this is actually a good thing.  You may not like it so much now, but think about what you want your child to be like when he or she is older and curious and creative are often words that come to mind.

  3. My daughter painting the TV?  My fault.  Really.  Not once had I ever explained the TV was off-limits so how on earth would she think to know that?  She sees colours on it when it’s on and off it’s a beautiful, blank, black canvas.  In other words, if you don’t want your child getting into something, make sure it’s either not accessible or you’re clear it’s off limits.  Toddlers have the brain capacity of… well, a toddler.  You can’t expect them to do your job for you, despite how intelligent they may seem or how good they are normally; their brain just isn’t ready to inhibit that really cool idea, like painting a TV.

  4. Water cleans TVs.  Windex does not.  Don’t ever use Windex on a TV even though it says it’s for shiny surfaces.  I suppose technically the TV isn’t that kind of shiny surface.  Oh - and always try to clean the paint before it dries.  (I’m pretty sure with washable paint you can clean it after, but it may be more difficult.)

  5. It’s just a TV.  What if we hadn’t saved it?  What if it was reincarnated as a pink TV, forever to show images with a bright pink hue?  We’d be annoyed, probably even angry, but in the grand scheme of things, our relationship with our daughter is so much more important.  Of course we’d still make it clear any new TV was off-limits (I’m not saying “anything goes”), but we sometimes forget that things are just things.  Our children must know that they mean more to us than any material item, even if that item is what lets us watch hockey on our Saturday nights.

We may not be able to control the ways our children explore this world, but we can make sure they do it in a way that allows us to watch our TVs after and allows us to keep ourselves cool, calm, and collected.

By Tracy Cassels

September 30, 2013