Monday, September 29, 2008

Mess is More

My friend Julie has hit on a corner of what I've been thinking about. Must have something to do with the 3 hour conversation we had in the car the other night.

Mess is necessary. I have three little boys, it would be SO easy to plug them into the TV (though I see serious patterns of conflict and discontent that come with that entertaining black box) or video games (I really want my children to know each other, and how many blades of grass are in our backyard rather than all the secrets to the game) and keep a perfectly clean house, and I wouldn't 'have' to interact with them a bit. This is not what I want our family to be about. Even if it's hard sometimes.

Before going any further, I must say that I am an advocate of moderation. My boys do have a tv and computer game allowance. My job as stay at home teacher, is to compete with these brain-consuming electronic gadgets and keep the boys happy just living and building and using their imaginations.

Would you believe that we have a tree house, a swingset, and a plethora of outside toys in the backyard, and my boys are just drawn to the mud pit? What am I saying, of course you believe me! These are boys we're talking about? A spoon and bowl and you have the best hobby in history: mud pies.

This goes for inside too;
tinkertoys, marble racers, lincoln logs, blocks, playmobile, legos, puzzles, games, and of course a good set of markers or colored pencils, paper and scissors are the indoor version of those good fun toys that keep my kids coming back for more...and being creative and inclusive, relational and learning. Notice, NONE of these activites are mess free. Mostly, they're messy. Forts in the living room, muddy shoes in the closet that left clumps through the house, water on the floor, 26 lincoln logs in any given room? It's all good.

Ok, well, let's be real. This is something that I'm growing into, it's only taken 7 years. Even 2 years ago I seriously struggled with toys all over the playroom. Now the boys are older, and I realize I have 3 choices; let the kids turn into veggies, keep after them to "clean up" in a way that will make them go upstairs just to get away from me, or just let the mess be.

I will never forget a conversation I had w/ my husband's late Aunt. Her three girls were grown and gone, and cancer had taken her husband 10 years before. We stayed with her for a weekend, and I commented to her, "Your house is so neat, and clean too."
Her reply stopped me in my tracks, "One day your house will be this clean too."
Heaven forbid! Should I want an empty home so that it will be neat, clean and tidy? No, today I will embrace the days my husband works from home, and I'm able to school all three of my boys right here, to be part of their mess-adventures.

So that's what I'll do, I'll let 'em be...I watch them make their messes. Sometimes I'll jump in too, knowing that all too soon they'll be grown and tidy enough, and I'll have a quiet, clean house to keep me lonely. I'll choose today.

An interesting article from the New York Times...

It could always be worse...


ohhollyf said...

Great post 1 Luv to think of how happy mudpies can make boys !

Cathy said...

Yes, this is one learning to do as well! It's just ESPECIALLY more difficult in a little apartment, but we'll learn:)

Cathy said...

Yes, this is one learning to do as well! It's just ESPECIALLY more difficult in a little apartment, but we'll learn:)

runninggal said...

I love it! Bekah spent the day in our backyard mudpit too - making 4 or 5 different varieties of chocolate delights. We dreamed together as we played of how awesome it would be if it really were chocolate - it truly looked yummy!! :) Then we thought of what we could actually make together in the kitchen that would be so chocolatey - coming soon to our kitchen, we can't wait!

Moderation is key though, as you say. Cade has his favorite motorcycle racing game on the internet - but it's definitely not played on a warm day :)...but the dead of winter when it's dark by 4 pm, it is a fun diversion.

You might want to post that site you found a while back that helped streamline the computer so it's safer for kiddos. I forget what Ralph did, but it was a great idea if kids on online to go via that program you found. Help? I am not quite remembering it right!