Life is messy, and that's ok.

If you're a parent, how often find yourself reconsidering doing something your kids want to do because of the potential mess it will make?  I didn't think I was doing it that often, but maybe I was wrong.

My son Keegan LOVES Spiderman.  Spiderman is the coolest thing since well, dinosaurs.  (Apparently.)  When we go to Target and peruse the toy department, there is a particular toy that always catches Keegan's eye.  It's a Spiderman glove that has an apparatus you can strap to your wrist, load a can of what is essentially silly string into the apparatus and make it appear as though you are shooting "webs" out of your hand, just like Spiderman does.  Keegan's talked about this toy everytime we've gone to Target for about 3 months.  I've told him if he wants it, next time he has money, he should buy it. (He earns a quarter each day he fills his "row" with reward magnets on his responsibility chart at home, plus Grandpa often surprises him with a crisp ten dollar bill, "in case there is something he might see sometime at the store that he wants to buy." In case. Ha!)  Everytime he has had enough money to buy the "web shooter" though, he ultimately passes and chooses something else.  On our most recent trip to Target, when asked if he wanted to buy the web shooter, he hemmed and hawed a bit, then ultimately said, "No, I'd better not, because it would probably make a big mess."  And it hit me.  This toy that he was so impressed with and hadn't stopped talking about for THREE months (an eternity in kid time) would not be purchased because it might make a mess.  That really struck me.

I've been thinking of all the things I steer Keegan from because of the clean up factor. "No, let's not get the playdough out right now."  "No Mommy is going to scoop the flour because it could get all over."  "How about we just use crayons instead of paints today."

Beyond those thoughts, how many things do I steer MYSELF away from because it could get messy?  "That person is really being hurtful, but they could get upset with me if I point it out." "That child could fall out of the shopping cart if the mom doesn't turn around soon, but she might yell at me to mind my own business." "I really want to get my Master's degree, but I'm not sure I could balance that around my life."

Two days ago, Keegan and Dad went to Target, and he got the web shooter.  He shot that whole can of "webs" yesterday.  There was blue silly string EVERYWHERE.  But after it was over, we cleaned it up together and it was good. And Spiderman Keegan was happy. 

I'm going to work on making more messes and allowing for more messes starting now.  Life IS messy and that's ok.


  1. Well Put Nat...and something I could learn from!

  2. What a great post! I have to say though, I love how Mr. K, at almost 4 yrs old, was smart enough to know it would make a mess and therefore make work for mommy. Smart cookie that one.

    But you're right...I catch myself saying that alot too. "No, that's too messy." "No, let momma do it because you'll make a mess."

    Kids love messes, and when kids love something they're happy. And really, what's better than a happy kid?

    Not much.

    Thanks for reminding me to let there be messes.

  3. A fantastic reminder!! I'd also love to see a post on your responsibilities/reward system.

  4. I am SO GUILTY of this same thing. Then again, it makes me proud to see my 3 and 4 year olds take their dinner plate to the counter or dump their dirty clothes in the hamper after a shower. Its good to teach them these things, but I sometimes forget they are still 3 and 4 and VERY MUCH like to bring every toy out and make a mess. Pretty soon our boys will be grown up and who's toys will we step on then...makes me sad.


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