He was only just four and so very proud of his ability to write his name. So he had taken a sharpie and sprawled his name across the front hood of our gold saturn wagon. I walked out on the front porch and my jaw dropped. Immediately racing to places like “I just lost any resale I had on this car” followed by bubbling anger.

“Hey dude did you write your name on the front of the car?”

“I think that was Kinny,” sensing my disapproval perhaps.

There were many directions the next steps could have gone in.  First up I needed to get to a calmer place. I needed to be able to see my child and remember his intent. It is easy in this world we live in to quickly slip into the place where my child has done something to me. That he stepped toward the car marker in hand to maliciously deface our car branding it forever to ensure we never were able to sell it. However,  when I remembered he was four and fully unaware that some markers were permanent I could reframe my next step.

“Buddy, we don’t write on the car. ” Keeping it simple so he understands. And I took responsibility to gather up all permanent markers and put them up high.

Now we had the issue of the marker on my car. So I looked up ways to remove marker from various surfaces and low and behold I found toothpaste was exactly what we needed. So together we squirted toothpaste on the car grabbed some toothbrushes and within no time and with tons of laughter we had removed his name from the hood of the car.

There was no shame. No guilt. No anger thrown his way.  It was a chance to learn a few new things while keeping our relationship 100 percent in tact.  Seven years later and he can still tell you toothpaste removes permanent marker from most surfaces, handy tip to have.