Hand Graffiti Battle. Mom Loses.


Not so long ago, I used to care if Cole drew on himself like a piece of canvas.

First, I used the old, “you will die of ink poisoning” argument. He believed me when I told him that his ears would fall off if he ever cut his own hair, so I figured I had a shot with the ink poisoning. I did, for a certain amount of time, but then he Googled ink poisoning. There are a lot of deaths that result from swallowing a pen or a pen top, but not as many from ink poisoning. You know, who really cares about porn sites? A truly useful internet parental control would be a flashing screen on your teen’s computer that says, “I am telling your mother you are checking up on her.”

When “death by ink poisoning” failed to work, I told Cole that he might unknowingly be drawing gang graffiti symbols on his hand that could be noticed by a gang member passing by the school and, in turn, result in an innocent by-stander being shot and killed. After all, we live in Chicago. If I were president, any teen that was caught eye-rolling would be forced to listen to thirty minutes of their parents’ favorite music on their headphones. I should be president.

Next, I sternly pointed out that drawing on your hands was a distraction from important schoolwork. Now here is the kicker: the Waldorf school that Cole attends often encouraged the children to draw or play with a piece of clay while listening to a story or a lecture. Cole, of course, pointed this out to me. Gathering myself up, I pointed out that high school students take notes. Obviously they don’t take notes in chorus. Let’s not talk about the singing battle I lost a long time ago.

When I selflessly waited for four hours with my son at his pediatrician’s office because he was suffering from chest pains and the good doctor took one look at the intricate drawings on his hand and arm and said, “Cole, that is beautiful. You are obviously very talented,” I knew that Cole had just won the battle of the ink. OKAY, FINE. The same doctor who diagnosed my son’s chest pains as rib spasms was now complimenting him on his body graffiti. I wanted to smile and say, “Obviously you missed your calling as a connoisseur of fine art.”

Fine. I have decided to re-think my feelings about drawing on one’s body. I fought a hard war, gave it my best shot, and quite frankly, I lost. So, I am retreating to the hill, “not worth fighting over,” where so many other parents gather on a daily basis. I have concluded that teens whose body art is applauded and appreciated are at a lower risk for tattoos and piercings later in life. Those of you with younger children, please write this battle guideline down for future reference on the same page as, “Teens that are allowed to blow things up at home are much less likely to become terrorists when they grow up.”

Of course, we have a ways yet to go, so be sure to check back in 4 years and see if I was right or if I was wrong.

Drop me a comment and share your parenting war stories! Odd Loves Company!

11 thoughts on “Hand Graffiti Battle. Mom Loses.

  1. Ha, I love it! Though as a teacher I often send children to the bathroom to scrub their arms and legs of all pen drawings and notes. However, if they were half as creative as Cole is, then I’d be tempted like you to take a photo of it and then send them off to scrub. Btw, Cole would make a lovely Indian henna tattooist, that hand is a work of art!

    • If he ever leans towards a tattoo I will suggest henna. I am fine with anything that is not permanent. Hair grows, Henna wears off and as I discovered ink is really not that big a deal. I would rather he stay on the attractive side of life and think long term….which I also encourage whenever possible despite eye rolling.

  2. Katybeth – I love your reasonings of why Cole should not draw on his hands…the ink poisoning was brilliant and as much as I adore Google…damn him for giving Cole the power to bust you. Some battles just aren’t worth the fight. I hope parents of younger children take your advice and print a copy of your ink-war post for future reference. ♥ Diane

    • Cole responds much better to humor than he does dictatorship–although I am not opposed to the later–I am fine with saying, because I am your MOM. In this case though-it is his hand, the school is fine with it and its more of a preference on my part. Yep–that hill gets more parent traffic everyday!
      Excited about prom?

  3. The Ancient Celts have been drawing picutures and symbols on the hand and body for years. Tom tried it in highschool to justify his one time attempt at body art. Jim was not impressed and grabbed him into the bathroom and scrubbed and scrubbed off the ink! He said quietly but firmly ” I better not ever see ink on your flesh again”! And then the question ” Do you understand me?”. Yes Dad was his reply it never happened again. Jim’s voice is quiet but firm. He never says no to the children or forbids anything, he never uses corpral punishment but he was boiling mad over the ink on the body and it was not going to happen again. All Tom’s friends have tatoos multiple ones and they’ve asked him why he doesn’t have one? He answers his friends. Leahy’s do not mark their bodies it’s a family rule! I’ve never had to say a word about it and I am so pleased this one didn’t land in my lap.

    I’m sure the body art will not harm Cole but the doodling is a message he is bored and that is unfortunate at a school of that caliber apparently they cannot hold his interest and this is could be why he’s doodling on his flesh. This is what would bother me about this, not the ink or the drawings on his body. How about introducing more reading material even if it is a comic book? By fifteen a student should be able to choose his electives and if he doesn’t like chorus than he should be able to work in the art room or wood shop in his free periods.

    • Ahh–so its the Irish in him. Well that should help with his grandmother. Cole is bored in Chorus but Waldorf runs a different sort of curriculum. As time goes on he will have a few more choices and in the meantime-his intricate art skills will improve.

  4. My son always doodled in his notebooks in high school, probably a sign of boredom as Nancy pointed out. Needless to say, he hasn’t the time to doodle now that he’s in college. We kids were always told the same thing about drawing on ourselves (the ink poisoning aspect); nobody I knew ever died of ink poisoning. You’ll probably find that this, too, shall pass, especially once Cole reaches college. But I’ve gotta admit, his work is beautiful!

    • Thanks Debbie. Its true they move from one thing to the next–staying with the things you like for less time than the things you don’t–its the nature of a teen. I am glad he is not writing girls phone numbers on his hands, or cheat notes at this point–so there is always something to be grateful for…

  5. Pingback: Hand Art and interview with Cole

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