Scotland loves to collect “stuff” from around the house and collect it into a common place. Sometimes the container is an emptied ziplock bag, a backpack, a cardboard box, or yesterday, a tent. He tends to continue to find things to add to his container until it is full. So you can imagine what sort of mess we had on our hands when we put away the tent last night. I awoke this morning to this pile of random stuff and felt my anxiety building and my frustration rising. I knew there was no way that my three year old child could responsibly put all of this stuff away. But because he made the mess, it only made sense that he did. I wanted to trash it all. In my frustration I started calling all of it “junk” and making exclamations like: “This just isn’t okay. Things go in certain places and when things get disconnected from their intended spots then they aren’t fun any more.” My chest tightened. How can I curb this behavior? Immediately, I looked at myself.
I need to be more of a stickler. I need to consistently demand that things be put away, in the right place. There needs to be a right place, with a pictorial label. I must stop allowing Scotland to take anything anywhere. Some strict ground rules need to be established. Then my flip-side chipped in:
But free play and imaginative play are the building blocks of a child’s learning. The stricture and structure of the adult world can stifle a child’s imagination, creativity, and joy. Who cares if your toys aren’t organized. They’re not for you!
And so goes the debate in my head. One day I’ll side with the structured one, the next day I’ll give in to the creative one. It’s the architect and the artist fighting inside of my head. One wants order, the other wants freedom. You can’t have one with out the other. So where is the balance? Should I say, Scotland you can only choose a container this size or smaller to keep your treasure. Or, you can only dump your treasures out in this bin.
Tom and I are working to raise children who can find joy in the mundane, thrill in the ordinary. So while I crave order and cleanliness, even more I want creativity and life. Now I just need to figure out how to have both at the same time! Ideas?