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9to5to9: The Calamity Kid takes up residence

Submitted by on Wednesday, 6 August 2008 No Comment

“I spent three summers in North Carolina, so I know the damage a hurricane do.

Nothing — not watching street lights sway as winds howled through the parking lot at work, not simmering for three days without electric — could have prepared me, though, for the storm that’s roiled our house recently.

Witness the past few days:

  • A kitchen flood caused by an inability to know when to say when at the water dispenser. Hint: Stop when it starts slopping over your hand.
  • Various bathroom disasters triggered by an inability to calculate accurately the proper ratio of toilet paper needed to deal with “”much poopy.”" Hint: Half a roll is too much.
  • A refrigerator bin collapse resulting in a quart of marinara splaying across the white floor. Hint: Just because the yogurt drink has a monkey on it doesn’t mean you have to swing on the refrigerator door like Tarzan to retrieve it.

The last one hurt the most, not because it was the messiest — it was — but because it took us down to two jars of sauce with two weeks left until I can make more while I’m on vacation. We should be all right, but it’s going to cut close.

Such is life when your 3-year-old turns into Calamity Kid. Little Guy’s motivation is pure — he’s in a massive “”I do it myself”" phase — which is why I gritted my teeth and sopped sauce tonight. My irritation must have shown anyway, because he hung his head, rolled his baby blues and whispered, “”I sowwy. I din’t mean to.”"

I felt like marinara-coated scum. “”Of course you didn’t mean to, babes. But I’ve asked you not to swing on the door because these accidents keep happening.”"

“”This was no accident!”" Big Guy chimed in accusingly. “”This was because you didn’t listen.”"

I felt like a murder defendant listening to the prosecutor convict him with his own words. Yes, Big Guy had heard a variation of that recently, when he woke up to dried-out markers after being warned repeatedly that failure to close them when he finished would result in that exact outcome. I was insensitive to his claims of “”accident.”" I’ll admit, their two-year age gap creates a different standard that’s at times unfair in Big Guy’s eyes.

Big Guy had a point this time, despite his delivery being all wrong.

“”That’s right, he should have listened. But I’m sure he will from now on,”" I said as Little Guy nodded.

Problem is, while he might have listened, he won’t remember. Lessons like this carry pretty steep learning curves for wee folk.

I don’t mind much, though I did have plans for the evening that didn’t involved mopping the kitchen. I’m a moral relativist when it comes to mess. Motivation matters more to me than outcome.

And Little Guy is messing up for all the right, self-sufficient reasons. He doesn’t wait for me to fetch a glass of water — he gets it himself. If he wants a snack, he grabs his own apple or smoothie. I’ll admit it caused some nervous moments the afternoon I found him on top of the counter, pilfering a glass cookie jar, but it mostly works out OK.

I just need to start hording Swiffer pads for the times when it doesn’t.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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