I am rudely awakened by my wife, who has just returned from working the evening shift at the hospital. She says in frustration: “You weren’t watching the kids?” I get up immediately shaking the sleep out of my eyes. 12:30 AM. And the two youngest kids are not in bed.

“What happened? What did they do?” I say. Grogginess disappears with the expectation of disaster.

“Take a look,” she says with hands indicating the stairway and the carpet.


And that’s when I see a mess of black and red dry-erase marker lines on the beige carpet in the hallway, on the stairs carpeting. There are asterisks, funny faces, pigs, tornados, twisters, noodles, abstract art worthy of Jasper Johns or Gustav Klimt on crack.

“I’m sorry,” I say, “They were in bed at 10. I must’ve fallen asleep after reading to them. And they got up and found something exciting to do.”

Needless to say our daughter got a scolding. And a stern lecture on never using markers outside of paper and a whiteboard.

The next hour and a half, we are taking rags soaked in hot water and soap to the marker lines, and it seems to clean up the situation. Then we use the steam cleaner to shampoo the carpet on those graffitti areas. At first it looks like we’re just spreading the gunk around. But it does get cleaned up. Eventually.

After all that effort, I can’t sleep. So I write.

And tonight, I gotta stay awake until EVERYONE is sleeping. Vigilance is key. Wish me luck.

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