Please don’t get C a blanket she can draw on for her birthday.

This parenting thing is a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants affair for me. I’ve got enough maternal intuition to get me through the day with my child essentially unscathed. For instance, she narrowly escaped eating goose poop yesterday thanks to my stealthy ways. I’m a pro. But when it comes to the details, I am learning as I go and making decisions as challenges arise. I am not a child psychologist, and I am sure I will make some totally intentional weirdo choices during the next 17 years regarding C’s upbringing. In the last year, I’ve learned that you make concessions and just do what works to get everyone to the next nap time without crying too much.

I have caved and bought her Made in China, BPA-laced plastic trinkets from the dollar store against my better judgement. I have given her deceptively sweet Multigrain Cheerios because I didn’t want to cut up something more healthy. On uncountable occasions, I have forgotten to wash her hands – fresh from a trip to the playground – before she eats. These are my confessions.

I will make a lot of mistakes and I am no expert nor a mastermind. But there are some things I don’t think I’ll ever do for the sake of easiness.

Take this product I ran across today: it is a duvet cover that your kid can draw all over. The product reviews were glowing.

“I am for sure going to get this for Timmy!”

“We got it for my daughter and she loves it! Now she can express herself on her bed!”

“What a wall-saver!”

Something about this item left me a little uneasy. It seems like as parents, one of the things we should be doing is teaching our kids boundaries. I don’t have to tell you that I am all for creativity and teaching children to draw, read, color, create, and express themselves with their words. It’s their nature to do so and the best thing we can do outside of loving them and giving them security is fostering an environment for them to explore the world safely. But drawing on the bedsheets? Um, no.

Call me old fashioned, but I think duvets are for sleeping on. They are not disposable. Kids will make messes and some of them will draw on walls, but the idea of intentionally buying something for them to write all over and likely destroy does not sit well with me. I had one comforter growing up. It was purple and frilly. I picked it out at Goldsmiths when I was seven and it was not updated in my room until it was totally worn out when I was 13. I had ceased liking it when I was ten, but I knew that it was my comforter so it would be used to completion. It was my job to keep it clean and neat and not spill nail polish all over it. Our parents expected us to make our belongings last and to understand that the furniture and fixtures in our home were there to stay and not be used for whatever whim we thought up.

I realize I just got a little “in my day” there. But at some point “my day” was phased out. There are many, many advantages C will have by being born when she was, but I’m not too keen on the consumerism that is so prevalent now. It is way too simple to go out and buy a new item that will make yours and your kid’s life more fun and/or easy. But will purchasing your child a bedspread she can draw on boost her self esteem in a real way? Will it give her the edge on getting into art school when she’s older? How much time will it really buy you when your child is driving you nuts while you make dinner and you just need her to have a brief diversion? Is it really worth it to teach your kids that the possessions you work to provide for them can be appropriated for whatever purpose their minds can think up?

This is a tricky one, methinks. Thoughts?


  1. genericmessage · · Reply

    There is a mother in my wife and I’s group of friends that is against red dye in food. “Did you know that red #5 causes autism? That’s why little Hogarth doesn’t eat red things. OR GET BOOSTER SHOTS BECAUSE I AM INSANE”

    Those people, I wanna destroy.

    The people who allow their children to own “Heelys” or those shoes with a wheel in them I also want to destroy.

    1. Those shoes are COMPLETELY annoying. If I had a nickel for every time a kid almost rolled into me while wearing them, I would jam all the nickels up their parents’ noses.

    2. I have two kids that can’t eat red dye because it makes them absolutely absolutely off their rocker The first one did not sleep for three days because of the red dye in the meds he was taking. Three days. I get weepy and sleepy thinking about it. At the moment, they are sucking down milkshakes from McDonalds, so I still get to fail parenting.

      Heelies are a parents loving way of telling their child “I hate you, and I want you to die of a head injury.

  2. I can’t see mysd buying for this for a child, if no other reason than the fact I’m anti-duvet.

    More seriously though, once they start drawing on that, what’s to stop them from thinking the 20,000 count Egyptian cotton pillowcases are fair game, too?

    …But since I’m a grown up and I do know boundaries, I do kind of want that blanket.

    1. I am anti-duvet as well. Replacing those things out is one of my least favorite chores by far. I once got it done in 15 minutes, and that is my best time. I think I could probably medal in the duvet Olympics.

      1. 15 minutes?! I think you’ve found your calling: Championship Duvet Replacement.

  3. I’m not a parent, but it seems to me that this would teach a kid that it’s okay to draw on bed sheets all the time. Especially if they’re very young, how are they to know the difference between the okay-to-draw-on sheet and the not-okay-to-draw-on sheet? That could get awkward if the family is visiting friends, and the child wanders off and draws all over the friends’ expensive sheets they bought in Paris on their honeymoon.

    I used to lie on my bed with a sheet of paper and a large book to press on, and was quite content. If the notebook-sized sheet of paper wasn’t big enough for me, then I asked my dad (an artist) for a bigger piece of paper. Seems simple enough to me.

    1. That’s my fear too, Grace. Even if the kid understands that the drawing is limited to the one blanket, it seems like showing a child that blankets are disposable and can be used in such a way kind of devalues his/her belongings. Paper and crayons are much simpler and for sure foster a sense of creativity. Thanks for your great comment!

  4. This seems like that same idea behind places putting small chalkboards in bathroom stalls so that people will write on them instead of on the walls with a sharpie. Guess what? It doesn’t work. If you teach you child it’s okay to write on the bedspread they’re bound to think it’s okay to write on everything else. I had a hard enough time with the twins redecorating the house and all I told them they could color on was paper. I couldn’t imagine what they might have drawn on had I told them it was okay to color on their sheets, too.

    1. That is what I suspected. Like I said, I have no idea how good/bad an idea these sheets are since C is still too young for them, but it seems like if your kid already wants to color and draw all over everything, just telling them to limit their coloring to the bedspread isn’t going to save the rest of your home from being drawn all over. Thanks, TD!

  5. Boundaries are SO important! I completely agree!!!

    On the other hand…

    Let’s say you buy an old chair at a thrift store. Let’s say you stick it in the corner, and then you decide you don’t LOVE it. But..your dog loves it. Actually, your dog WORSHIPS it. Now…your dog isn’t allowed on furniture, because, ya know…boundaries. But this chair isn’t *really* furniture to you. It’s just a chair you bought because you were all OMG PUCE GREEN in the store, and then you got it home and you were all OMG VOMIT GREEN I HAVE REGRETTSSSSSSS. So, you let the dog have THAT ONE chair. The dog can’t have other chairs, of course. But this one chair you give her. Because, it’s different.

    The “draw on your blanket!!!” thing is the same way: this isn’t a normal duvet. This is a novelty duvet. This is a “I’m going to draw on this for 10 minutes TOPS and get tired of it” duvet, at best. And sometimes, despite boundaries, we need to give our kids novelty duvets….or give our dogs Vomit Green thrift store chairs. Just because. Because childhood is magic. Childhood is filled with dreams. Dreams with boundaries, yes. But dreams all the same.

    Does that mean you should go putting a can a beer in her lunch box? Nah. But it does mean sometimes you can, and you should, slip something sugary and bad for her in there just to make her day a little brighter, and assure her she’ll be the coolest kid at the lunch table…if for just one afternoon.

    Sweet C’s going to have a lot of boundaries. Because you’re a good Mama. But she, and all children, also need “novelty duvets” from time to time.

    1. OMG I LOVE YOU for this comment. :D Thank you so much for understanding that it’s not a black-and-white issue! Kids are indeed capable of discerning the difference between the novelty duvet cover acquired for their express usage and the 200 year old antique armoire that you keep your heirloom china in. There is a ton of gray area in what we allow our kids access to and that’s why I think the boundaries we set for them can be really effective when they’re diplomatically implemented.

      My primary complaint is when people go out and purchase ALL the stupid crap for their kids. It seems like if you were to pan out of the picture I included in the post, you would see that the little girl’s room is littered with lots of other toys and belongings that she played with for maybe 15 minutes and then tossed aside, y’know? I am totally on board with indulging them with cool gimmicky toys from time to time, but in my experience, there are lot of parents who indulge their kids on a weekly and even daily basis.

      It’s not worth my time to worry too much about those other parents, though. My main focus is obviously C, and I can totally get on board with giving her those little fun moments. Those Slurpees after school on Fridays. The 300-pack of crayons. The offering of a huge envelop of stickers and an old bookcase for her to stick them on. That’s what makes childhood :D

      Your comments are the best, T. xoxo

      PS. Did you know my mom accidentally packed a beer in my lunch bag when I was in middle school?

      1. <3 Of course I know your mom packed a beer in your lunch. Hence the mention of it. ;-) (I kinda stalk yo' blog.)

  6. First of all, awesome mistakes! I forgot to even touch on my lack of Doodle-hand-washing when I mama-bashed myself. :) We all make mistakes, good for you to own them with pride.
    As far as those duvets are concerned, oh my word no! I’m in a pretty damn firm spot where drawing on the carpet, walls, windows, electronics, couches, counters, and clothing is completely inappropriate, and I can absolutely throw blankets and comforters in that mix. Give your child this fun notebook comforter, and the next thing you know ALL blankets can be colored on, and that’s just not even a little bit ok! :)

    1. I love how our blogs become these little mom confessional booths. Who are we confessing to? Erma Bombeck? Pretty sure she’s the gold standard of funny momhood!

  7. Love the idealized drawing of the kid on the bed there…cuz no one’s ACTUAL draw-on duvet is going to look like that. We have a draw-on backpack, and it sure doesn’t look like the advertised picture…
    This impulse to draw all over everything is something we’re supposed to be regulating, not confusing with items like this stupid coverlet. Good grief, the times we’ve washed the walls and floors and counters because they were scribbled all over. Once P asked Mum to close her eyes and then led her into the living room, where she’d scribbled on EVERY wall. And that’s in a house with defined boundaries about where we draw.
    Paper and other art materials are so abundant, plus you can buy window crayons (again, why?) if you must, which wash off, albeit with some effort. Plus sidewalk chalk, bath crayons…can’t we just leave the damn bed alone?
    Next thing you know, the kids will be drawing on ME.
    For parents who need to buy their kids stupid, excessive stuff, here’s an interesting link:

    1. LB, you get so much abuse. I bet if your Mum had to scrub the counters of some child mess, she’d use you as a sponge. You have so many pitfalls in your life, I can see why you’ve resorted to alcohol. I can’t say I blame you.

      That link you sent was absolutely incredible. The little stuffed frog in the Morocco actually reminds me a lot of Froggert.

      1. I’m sure Froggert gets better treatment. My parent won’t even let me have custom fonts. When is Froggert going to start blogging?

        1. As soon as I can convince him that it’s a viable platform. He’s a bit old school and refuses to have his story told in any media except for The New Yorker. I need to bring him down a few pegs.

  8. How are her lines that straight? Her mattress must not have much spring.

    Kids draw on each other’s faces so I’m not sure if this blanket will cause too much mayhem. It’s a dumb idea either way. Do kids even get toys anymore? I remember the toy aisle being so exciting. Now everything is a gadget. Kids are in such a rush to grow up and die. Adults do everything to live a mundane watch the clock life hoping to slow down time. The point, there are much cooler toys out there to help a kid’s imagination. Give them a doll or an action figure. I came up with some of the coolest stories with those things.

    Action figures…not dolls. Never. Maybe once.

    1. Do you remember the Super Toy Runs put on by Nickelodeon back in the day or is that before your time? If you won the grand prize, you got to run through a Toys ‘R Us for five minutes and keep everything that you snagged. Now all kids have to do is whine for five minutes and they get whatever they want. Where’s the work in that? It’s not even athletic.

      1. Not to be an ass and shamelessly promote, but I mentioned it in this post

        Those were always great. I cried because my handwriting was too big for the entry form.

  9. I totally agree. A comforter they can draw on isn’t going to last long because they’re going to eventually think everything they drew is stupid and start to hate it, and then what? It really sort of bothers me how it’s just assumed that anything for a kid is going to be disposable. I mean, I know–kids screw stuff up and wear it out and it has to be thrown away–but what ever happened to teaching kids to respect their stuff? Every object in the house doesn’t have to be for play time.

    I am making C’s birthday present. It is not a blanket for her to draw on. It is also not a blanket. Oh, and I haven’t sent in a picture for her extravaganza because my mom has all my baby pictures and we’re not on speaking terms. But, if you want to know what I looked like as a baby, just look at Sonia. She’s totally way cuter than me, though.

    1. Yeah, the most disposable stuff we get for C is Ikea furniture. I scoffed at one of our friends when she said that they were going to raise their kids on wood only furniture and toys (no plastics) but I am really seeing the virtue in doing that now.

      You are so sweet to be making her something. Do you ever find that you get more excited than Sonia when someone tells you that they have a present for her?

  10. Pretty gimmick-y from my point of view with this I think the kid would do this for maybe 10 minutes before moving onto something else.

    Granted this is coming from the lady whose single duvet covers are covered in pen, food stains & nail polish….why?? because my step-daughter doesn’t understand me when I say “nail polish only in the bathroom”, all the boys don’t understand me when I say “no food in the bedrooms” and they all do their homework on their bed instead of at the table. Parenting = NOT winning.

    1. I am quickly learning that parenting is 99% not winning. But that 1% is pretty awesome.

      1. AGREED!!!! :D <3 XO

  11. This seems wrong, and confusing, on so many fronts. When did we decide it was okay to draw on your own comforter, but no one else’s? And don’t draw on the blankets that are on the couch!
    I agree that kids need boundaries and this seems like one more gimmic that will a) amuse the child for 15 min and b) cause parents 5 years of distress.
    Plus — that photo? What kid makes such perfect letters… especially on an uneven, soft surface with a marker?!

    1. I was wondering the same thing about the little girl’s writing! I doubt any kid would actually practice their penmanship on that thing. What’s next? Long division? Highly unlikely.

      1. Yes, next it will be “Pi” written to 100 numbers.

  12. Thinking, really thinking, about this one. I think kids need boundaries, but they also need to think critically, to discern differences, to know that was is appropriate in one instance may not be appropriate in another. My kids know that you don’t draw on the walls (my daughter’s friends do not all know this. Grrrr.), but when we were planning to paint the living room and dining room, I allowed my daughter to write all over the wall with a pencil. She had a blast. She has not written on a wall since. I have a section of wall that we make with their heights as they grow. They don’t go around marking their heights on other walls. Have they taken advantage of that small section of wall? Oh, yes. But, not one other section. I will never, by the way, paint over the god-forsaken mess that is their growth chart. In our old house, when we were painting the kitchen, my son was two. He wanted to help. I gave him a bucket of water and a brush. He “painted” along with me. He never took up my brush, he has never spontaneously gotten out a bucket and brush and painted the walls.

    I will admit to being a pretty loosey-goosey mom. The clean freak neighbor, whose daughter writes on my walls, calls my house The Fun House. I let my kids be creative, but they know they have to clean it up, they know they have to repaint anything they destroy and they seem to know the boundaries.

    So, the comforter. I agree that it will be interesting for about 10 minutes to 1/2 an hour. I also think that it won’t be near as much fun as the ads make it look. Someone who really thought it would be a great present could very clearly state that it was the only bed clothes that it was ok to draw on. Someone could then make the child remove any stains from any other sheets.

    I guess I’m saying that kids need boundaries but that they also need to be able to see how “this is ok” but that similar thing isn’t.

    1. I really, really see where you’re coming from here! Definitely, this bedspread is not one-size-fits-all for all kids because many children would be able to discern the difference between drawing on the special drawable sheets and drawing on their parents’ 85,937,820 thread count Egyptian sheets. I guess it all comes down to implementation and being very clear that they can have their space for creativity and fun but that space is not inclusive of the entire home. Kids aren’t dumb.

  13. Oh, and I am so old that none of my son’s baby pictures are digital. I need to find them in boxes stored in the toxic waste dump and then scan them. I shall accomplish this soon.

    1. Yay! I can’t wait to see them!

  14. The little girl on the bedspread looks like she’s 5. She would know not to draw on other duvets (I hope), but younger kids might not understand. Actually, maybe they would. I don’t know how kid’s minds work. I do know that a color-yourself-bedspread could get super tacky, super quickly though.

    I like your confessions. They are things that I wouldn’t have even though twice about. Haha! You’re a good mom, Em!

    1. I totally don’t know how kids’ minds work either. C has been babbling like crazy lately and a lot of the time I’ll wonder what practical thing she is saying and then my husband will have to remind me that she is probably saying that we should put her Big Bird toy in the freezer.

  15. Kids already seem to think the world is their canvas. Don’t know if we need to encourage them further.

    1. My thoughts exactly.

  16. What’s wrong with kicking it old school and have kids just draw on paper?
    Good catch by the way on the goose poop!

    1. I know! Paper and crayons are pretty awesome! When I taught kindergarten I was always blown away with what my kids could do with a pair of scissors, copy paper, and a glue stick. One time they made me a 3D model of a birthday cake.

  17. I am all for child boundaries.
    Like baby jail.

    1. That’s why cribs are a marvelous invention.

  18. I think the number one reason to stay away from that bed spread is because it’s tacky tack. Just kidding, I think that’s the number two reason. You’re right on with your hesitation. Drawing on walls and bedspreads feels a bit chaotic to me. It doesn’t really teach the lesson about the importance of taking care of our things. I always wanted to put stickers on my bedroom door but my dad said, “No.” Sure, he was OCD, but he was right, it would have looked crappy and I would have gotten tired of it. It taught me to be aware of, and appreciate my surroundings.

    I didn’t really articulate this well – it’s sort of jokey, so just DITTO to what you said. :)

    1. I think you articulated it really well! Taking care of your things is a really important lesson for kids to understand and one that I want to perpetuate with C. We are by no stretch of the imagination wealthy people and we can’t be replacing everything that gets busted (that’s my Southern coming out…”gets busted”) or is the receiver of an ill-placed sticker.

  19. I want one. I want one for me, and I want one for my three year old and my 8 year old.
    I think they’re awesome. I think they’re washable, too.
    Though I sometimes doubt the sanity of allowing kids to to somethings some times and not other times (mixed messages and all)….but hell, I made it this far. I’m guessing my kids will be alright too. Besides, we don’t have nice things.

    1. See, I think this is where you and me might be seeing eye to eye here. We’re a house full of creatives, and I was raised in a house of creatives. So drawing on things, singing songs about boogers, and building forts out of branches and sticks were all things that were not only okay in my house, but encouraged. When you’re raising creatives, you’re not going to have “nice things”. But you will have a lot of fun. Messy, glorious fun!

      1. I like that. Yes, we’re not filthy, unruly slobs, we’re creatives!!!
        Actually, though I poke fun at ourselves, we really are disorganized, but definitely imaginative and creative. I wonder how much A has to do with B. Right brain and all…

    2. And y’know, when it comes down to what matters in life, drawing on the bedspread is not all that important. ;) In our homes, we stress love, understanding, and the ability to make a decent cup of coffee. Thanks, Sara!

      1. That’s one place I am very strict. Coffee is very serious.

        1. Me too. It’s a slippery slope and one I’m not willing to compromise.

  20. I might not have thought about the boundaries thing initially. But I do agree with what Lisa says about it feeling chaotic. Learning about boundaries in different contexts would help children to learn about them in relation to their own lives even — what it means to respect certain spaces and to reserve impulses, etc. Yeah, I scrolled up again to see the little girl drawing on the bed and that’s exactly what I saw, a little girl drawing on a bed — hahaha!

    1. It is kind of absurd if you observe it in a vacuum. It’s a kid drawing on her bed. What really gets me is that she’s practicing her penmanship. How realistic is this? It’s like you have to teach her to have fun!

  21. “What a wall saver”? – who comes up with these crazy arse products?? No, no little Jessica, don’t draw on the wall, mommy got you a nice bed cover to color on.

    Good for you for keeping the goose poo out of little C’s mouth! :-)

    1. It was a major winning moment for me to keep her from eating it. I should get a good star, right?

  22. She looks quite cute drawing away on her bed!

    1. Ha! That’s what they want you to say! ;)

  23. I had a doodling teddy bear that I guess was the same idea. I was wild with excitement the first time I wrote my name on its little face and arms. Then I got bored and left it on the shelf and started drawing on paper again.

    1. I remember those things! Someone brought one to the last day of eighth grade and had all their classmates sign it. I wonder whose attic it is in now.

      1. We did that with our shirts. I still have mine from both junior and senior school!

  24. Sorry, but if a child has crayons, aren’t all blankets, by definition, blankets they can draw on?
    (And walls, and clothes, and siblings, and…)

    1. This is true.

  25. Why buy a blanket to write on when the walls are RIGHT THERE!

    1. Walls are so handy!

        1. Except for the whole mortgage/rent thing.

          1. that’s a ‘side’ issue -AFAIK, my house came with walls – so what’s not to love about writing on them. Don’t get caught up in details – I bet Cee doesn’t!

  26. Pete Howorth · · Reply

    I don’t know about anyone else but I never drew on anything like a wall or a duvet when I was younger, I used paper if I wanted to draw something. Perhaps I’m brain damaged?

    1. We are both a couple of brain damaged squares, it seems.

  27. You’ve hit on one of my internal conflicts. On one hand, I think it’s important to curb the consumerism and avoid these novelty items. On the other, I want the kids to be able to feel like objects are not precious and important (except when they are, like keep your hands off my grandmother’s china) so they idealize owning things and see that as a goal.

    Maybe those two things are actually the same hand. So anyway, down with draw on duvets. Let them colour on their $15 Ikea duvets instead because I am completely powerless to stop them and it’s the least destructive thing they’ve done in a long time.

    1. I also read that back to myself and I think it doesn’t make sense because it’s 1:30 am. But I do support kid boundaries. You have to know what the rules are before you figure out how to break them. Kids are naturally curious and the challenge is to find ways to channel that without stifling them.

    2. That is my conflict too! I certainly don’t want my kid to have her creativity squelched and I want her to learn to think outside of the box. Hell, I just want her to be able to come up with a substitute phrase for “think outside the box.” Maybe my own parents failed me because I’m still saying it? I know exactly what you mean.

  28. I think your principle absolutely makes sense. Kids should learn principles, and there is nothing wrong about it. I personally wouldn’t have thought about the bedsheets as an example here, but why not? You’re right in assuming this might mean drawing on all surfaces is okay ;)

    And teaching kids to care about things they own is very important in the consumerist world.

    1. It’s really important in our little family world, too. We don’t have a ton of money to throw around when something gets broken or needs to be replaced. I don’t want her to feel like there are dollar signs hanging up over all our things, but I do want to impress upon her the idea that thriftiness is a virtue.

      1. I think it’s important whether someone has a lot of money or not; kids should know life is about knowing your priorities, respect, hard work, and all that – together with play too. So I’m with you there.

  29. Brittany · · Reply

    I COULD see a use for it, for an older child it might be kind of cool to allow them to have a blank duvet that they could decorate in any old way they might want to. :) But they need to realize that whatever they put on it now is what is going to be on it for good, it won’t be some thing the get tired of in a few weeks and want a new one. I really enjoyed those stuffed animals that you could color yourself when I was a kid because it let me customize it to my heart’s content. So, in that view, the duvet is neato.

    But for younger kids who wouldn’t recognize which items they should and shouldn’t draw on (like my 13-month-old) maybe not such a good idea. :p

    1. I remember those stuffed animals! They were cool. But yeah, maybe they were more geared towards big kids than little ones. I remember someone bringing one to the last day of eighth grade and having everyone sign it.

  30. […] decisions and methods. I’ve done it before, and when people in the comments gently pointed it out, I tended to agree with them and change my tune. Bedsheets, diapering, breastfeeding, feeding your […]

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