Jon writes our “When a Toddler Turns Teen” posts here on the blog because believe it or not, your adorable bundle of joy will grow up….
I just recently heard a song I liked from back in the 70’s or 80’s by Dave Edmunds called “Crawling from the Wreckage.” I happened to be sitting at my desk at home with a clear line of sight to Gus’ bedroom. Bing! One of those moments. I realized that if my son’s room had a theme song, it would be Crawling from the Wreckage. No different from any other kid his age- but significantly different from how it started out.
There was a place for everything and everything in its place, I had painted nice characters on the walls to match the wallpaper border. We had space left over so I asked him what shall we paint there? He was about 2 and at that construction vehicle stage so he said, “A bulldozer!” I asked him who is driving the bulldozer and without hesitation he said “A Rhinoceros!” So an hour or so later, he had a bulldozer driving Rhinoceros (with a tattoo that said “Mom” on his arm) on his bedroom wall. And his little bedroom was oh so nice. So clean. So cute.
I’m not sure when it happens, but gradually things get left on the floor, the toy closet overflows so it can no longer be closed, clothes litter the floor along with towels and shoes. Dresser drawer hang open. In one corner is a rock collection display, a fossil shark teeth collection display, and with the drawer standing open, apparently a socks and skivvies display as well. Every horizontal surface is littered with miscellaneous who knows what. The kid cave begins to develop its own Where’s Waldo sort of Ecosystem.
“Is he in there?” “Don’t rightly know…shall we call search & rescue, dear?”
Well the mess must be all the things that mean something special to him, I’ve heard. I wish. I guess if he’s got a special place in his heart for a few half full bottles of water, a couple empty soda cans and a pile of double bubble wrappers, I’d like to hear that story. Meanwhile, his trash can sits empty.
It is quite simply, wreckage.
Every time my wife puts away his clean laundry, she emerges from Gus’ room mumbling something about pig sties, garbage heaps, and landfills. Sometimes it’s so frightening, she’ll leave his laundry in the laundry basket in a different room and make him come and get it. After all, who knows what might jump out at you or what contagion you might contract in the kid cave? Oh sure, we get him to clean it up every so often. It takes at least a day. However, it only stays that way for a short time until the ecosystem begins to reconstitute itself. To me, it’s not worth the nagging, arguments and exasperation to force him to clean it more often. As long as the ecosystem remains non-invasive and does not begin to overrun its boundaries, I’m fine with him living like a squatter. I think a lot of kids are that way, and when they realize that it’s their place to be and they are the only one responsible for keeping it clean, and they begin to take some pride in it, they’ll pick up after themselves. They know how, they just don’t.
I have to admit, though, sometimes it would be nice to have that Rhinoceros come by on his bulldozer and clear away the wreckage…