Just like most kids, I went through a phase where I thought my mom was an idiot. I thought I knew everything. I must have rolled my eyes to Texas and back at some of her ridiculous notions. But then, I grew up. And it’s a good thing because it turns out she’s not as dumb as I thought! One piece of wisdom she gave me when I was expecting Boom was to always remember that if it wasn’t going to matter in the light of eternity, it probably wasn’t going to matter in 5 minutes.
I’ve tried to remember that when dealing with my kids. I mean, I make messes occasionally, so why should I expect them to be perfect? On Christmas morning I made this FABULOUS vanilla hot chocolate in the crock pot. JR asked me to bring it to Mom and Dad’s house that evening, so I grabbed the leftover pitcher full from the fridge and started through the dining room with it. Well, in my rush and with something in both hands, I didn’t realize I was slinging the pitcher around until I heard it splattering all over the floor in the foyer. I turned to see a lovely rich and creamy vanilla trail all through the dining room on the carpet my Daddy had just cleaned the week before when I was having a party. I couldn’t believe I had done it, but being upset, stomping, yelling or saying things I couldn’t take back was not going to clean up the mess or make me feel any better.
When Boom was little, he would make messes, that’s what boys do. He would spill things and look to me for my reaction. Instead of crying over spilled milk or equally as bad, blowing my gasket, I tried to always respond with “No Biggie, It’ll Wash”. You see, in my mind, if I put him in clothes then let him play, eat, craft or whatever he was doing in those clothes, then I was really the one to blame if *gasp* he got messy.
I tried to anticipate what we would be doing when I dressed him. If we got into an adventure that he wasn’t dressed for, I’d take his clothes off and let him be a kid. Otherwise, who cares if he just dumped an entire bucket of dirt on his head at the ball field? Here’s the thing: water dries, laundry detergent gets dirt out, floors can be cleaned and bubble baths get almost everything off of little boys. You can’t uncrush their spirit when you overreact to a mess. You can’t unhurt their little hearts when you flip out because they spilled grape juice on their white polo shirt. But you know what, in 5 years they won’t be able to wear that shirt anymore. You might get pennies on the dollar for it at a sale, or not and that kid is more important that the $50 you paid for that shirt. So, take a deep breath and say, “No Biggie, It’ll Wash”.
Today when Boom got in the car from school, I could tell he was tentative about telling me something. Then Hoss piped up to say, “Mom, Boom is FILFY!!” Sure enough, this was his shoulder…his entire side, arm and leg were caked with dried dirt. He looked to me to see my reaction. I had two choices…anger and frustration or not. I chose not and I looked him square in the eyes and said, “Whoa! That must have been one heck of a tackle! Did you at least get the ball?!” His whole countenance changed. He chattered all the way home about the game. He made a tackle, got the ball, somebody did something and somebody else did something else. I could have ruined our afternoon and damaged our relationship and lines of communication over dirt.
Having a Mom who doesn’t overreact to every little thing and who realizes accidents and messes happen is so important for keeping the lines of communication open as they approach those pesky pre-teen years. And after all, isn’t half the fun of an adventure making a mess!?
I’ll be in the laundry room if anyone needs me!