A Different Kind of Scared

I Didn’t Realize It Was Such an Issue…

I have guests over.  Chance is playing one of his favorite games, pulling all the DVD movies down from a shelf under our TV in the front room.  He studies each of the DVD covers intently; some he smiles at (he particularly likes Dave Chappelle), some he just joyfully flings to the floor.  Once he has a good pile going he slides them around on the rug like cars, scattering them everywhere.  He plays this game at least once a day. 

My guests are looking at me with that look.  Finally one of them ventures, “Do you really want him to do that?”   

“Yeah,” I say, “he’s having fun and there’s nothing that’s gonna hurt him.” 

“Buuuuuut,” they say back with incredulous googly eyes, “he’s making a mess.”  Capital M on mess implied.  Doesn’t that drive you crazy, their looks seem to say, it’s messy and how will you ever keep up?  What kind of unclean mother are you?

I consider explaining that I left the shelf that way on purpose when I babyproofed.  I think about mentioning the stage of development he’s at; you know, exploring, pulling objects off shelves and out of boxes. Getting into things.  Healthy stuff.

Finally, I shrug, “I don’t mind.”  I watch quietly as their brains explode.  Googly eyes roll along the carpet. 

Seriously.  I may be a little anal but if I was going to stress every time I had to pick up something I might as well go catatonic now, because the way I figure it, life is about 1/3rd cleaning up stuff.  Or, at least, it seems that way lately. 

I’ll sweep up the brain bits and eyeballs later, when I get around to the DVDs.    

                  – the weirdgirl

"The silicon chip inside her head gets switched to overload..."



I love it - so bright and cheery around here. And please, are you kidding me?

My daughter empties her piggy bank everyday - and there are quarters ALL OVER our floor. Hell, if it lets me get shit done (okay, I mean BLOG) then I'm all about it.

She's at the age now where she helps clean up - and it's all fine and dandy.

The Phoenix

I like the new look!

Your guests have kids? Sounds like they don't. And if they do, they are truly deprived.

Chance is exercising his brain, and learning some large and small motor skills. DVD cases on the floor is hardly a real mess.

You should see it when we do water play, or play doh, or blocks. It's a mess temporarily, but that's how they learn. And clean up is another opportunity for kids to learn as well.


Before our first child was born, I proudly displayed my CD collection in the living room. And it was alphabetized! As soon as my son was able to crawl, he made a bee-line for those CDs and started pulling them out and down. He loved nothing more than to stack them up and drool on them. I must've re-alphabetized those things five times before it finally struck me -- I have kids now, and some things just aren't important anymore.


My mother always says the same thing to me: "You're letting Ally wear that?" By "that" she means something-nice-that-will-get-horribly-dirty/ruined-by-my-daughter's-playing-habits. I figure, that's what they made Spray and Wash and washing machines for. Whatever. Kids need to play. They need to make a mess. Mom never used to let us play with play-Doh either, because she knew we'd mix the colors all together and smear it across the table. I still hold that against her. :)


My favourite child development expert, Burton White, wrote (a good twenty years ago), "a happy, well-developing 10-month-old and a tidy, uncluttered home are mutually exclusive". I may not remember it word for word, but that was the gist of it. The point being: children *need* to explore their environment. Yeah, they're making a mess, but they're learning, learning, learning.

Soon enough they will also learn to pick up and put away!

(Filed under "bad mother"? YOU are not the bad mother, but yours guests El Neatos, I'm not so sure about them..)


You are right about a third of life being about cleaning up stuff. It's like you gotta pick your battles, and if he's having fun and it takes less than five minutes to clean up, who cares?


yeah, your guests sound like childless pricks. dumb, too.

when we were visiting my mom last week, she was thrilled to let juniper empty her kleenex box one tissue at a time. when juniper was done, my mom carefully picked up all the tissues, folded them, and put them in a plastic baggie and handed them to me since I was sick. My mom gets it; sounds like your friends don't.

the weirdgirl

I think for some of our guests it's just been SO LONG since they were around small children that they (conveniently) don't remember anything.

As for me, it takes Chance a good hour (while I blog) to REALLY tear apart the room and I can still pick it up in 5-10 minutes... completely worth the trade-off.

(And the Bad Mommy is tongue-in-cheek)


Several commenters pointed out that the childeren will eventually learn to clean up. Don't count on it. My oldest didn't figure it out until after his first year of college when he found that he had to remove everything from his dorm room at the end of the year, bring it all back home, then pack it up again for the next school year. Now in his third year at college when I visited his room recently it looked so very neat - - unbelievable!

That Girl

The saddest thing I ever saw was my nephew - always dressed perfectly from the time he was born. At two, he CUFFED HIS PANTS (that's when men shake the front crease of their pants as they get up) as a matter of habit.
As I fed him a hotdog he informed me that he wasnt allowed to eat ketchup because it might drip or make a mess. Sad Sad Sad.


Waaaaay back before CD's & DVD's we had quite a collection of albums on shelves in our living room. We had to bolt the shelves to the wall because The Boy would pull himself up on the shelves and proceed to fling albums off the shelves one by one until he had a nice pile of them. Then he'd sit by the pile and shuffle them around until they looked the way he wanted. Like Phoenix said in a previous comment, we pretty much gave up on alphabetizing them because it was just too much fun to watch The Boy pull them down and play with them.

Oh, yeah, and NO they don't learn to clean up behind themselves because I took a vacation day Monday and cleaned my 17 year old son's room. Seriously, it took all day and I carried out 6 tall kitchen trash bags of trash. Six!


So glad to have found this post. I'm a first time mom of a nearly-10-month-old and I've been asking myself "should I be stopping him from tearing/scattering/throwing etc." I know it's good for his development to explore and all, but do I encourage this behavior? Good to know I'm not alone in letting the little one create chaos.


So glad to have found this post. I'm a first time mom of a nearly-10-month-old and I've been asking myself "should I be stopping him from tearing/scattering/throwing etc." I know it's good for his development to explore and all, but do I encourage this behavior? Good to know I'm not alone in letting the little one create chaos.

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