Mr. Sweetcheeks gets me by making messes. Not simple, toys-everywhere-food-on-the-floor-where-are-your-shoes?!!?? kind of messes. . . no, messes more like this:
Like fingerpainting with toothpaste, drawing on the walls and furniture, grinding up the watercolor cakes from his paint tray, making a "lake" on the kitchen floor, drawing all over his body (or his brothers') with markers, mixing milk and juice together (and adding some cereal), pouring the entire bottle of shampoo into his bathwater, dumping out the baby powder. . .etc etc, and making this lovely mess with some of my lotion.
Typing this now, it feels like I'm overreacting when these things make me crazy. But unfortunately, they do. I just haven't got time with everything else that's going on to stop and clean up disaster areas like these. I want to scream, "WHY???? WHAT were you THINKING???", though I don't. Scream it, I mean. And I try not to ask- after all, that's a ridiculous question to ask a 3-yr old.
When I walked in on this, he sadly told me, "But I didn't want you to come in here."
(~snort~) Yeah, I bet you didn't, Sweetcheeks.
But, here comes the next stage of my realization: I need to see all this in a different light. These unending activities are not malicious (I knew that), nor even thoughtless exactly- they are pure, genuine scientific exploration. Mr. Sweetcheeks is my budding scientist, performing ongoing experiments with cause-and-effect and with the nature of matter. He is getting down and dirty to learn how the world works. He doesn't just want to hear about stuff, he wants to feel it. To try it out. "What happens if I. . ." He wants to combine stuff, make new things, try something different. He is learning how to conduct experiments, how to think outside the box, how to explore the world with all his senses. These are actually skills and traits that I hope to instill in my children, so hey! Every time this happens I can recognize his brilliant scientific curiosity, and be proud.
Littleman however drives me batty with a never-ending supply of backtalk, questioning, bargaining and debate. Nothing leaves my mouth unchallenged. He is often a smug, argumentative brat with me, and dammit, he's good at it too!
I believe in limiting my use of the words, "Because I SAID SO, that's WHY!!", but it sure taxes my poor fried brain cells to have to explain, debate and even defend my every instruction. Especially since he comes up with pretty intelligent arguments!
So in the same vein, I decided to think of Littleman as a budding lawyer, and to view this behavior as excellent practice with skills that will indeed be very useful when he is an adult. He is learning critical thinking skills, persuasive debate, and use of logic. Again, all skills that I would most fervently wish for my children.
Then again, he also drives me crazy by pulling something like this whenever I point a camera in his direction:
|From Edisto Island Campout 2009|
But, perhaps that's another blog post.
My final stage of this realization is that I should be trying this with many, many more things besides just these habits of my boys. Babyman's being clingy, and I can't get a thing done? More baby hugs for me! Sweet! There's a sinkful of dirty dishes? Great, that's something I can finish pretty quickly and feel like I've really accomplished something! My knee is in pain where I fell on it the other day? Excellent, an excuse to go rest with my feet up for a minute! You get the idea.
So now whenever I feel a bad attitude coming on, I look at the offending situation and try to genuinely view it in a new light. Sometimes it works! Try it for yourself!