Reasoning Gone Awry

We've been concentrating a lot around here lately on the whole idea that if you make a mess, you clean it up. Mostly because this really is a learned behavior, and a child is never too young to get this concept.

There's also my theory that if a parent consistently addresses it when they are little, it's less likely that it will be a huge battle of wills when they are sixteen. Or at least when they are sixteen their uncleanliness will be conscious disgustingness, which is normal, rather than not knowing any better, which is really just sad.

Plus, I need some extra little hands, as mine will only be increasingly busy. To that end, these are the things we say regularly:

"You ate the popsicle, you put the stick and wrapper in the trash."

"You took the blocks out of the bin, you can put the blocks back in the bin."

"We won't get the play-doh out again if you don't want to pick up the pieces you drop on the floor."

"Don't bring all the bedding and pillows downstairs for a fort if you don't want to carry them back upstairs later."

And so forth. I am not opposed to helping clean up messes, because I do understand that the motor skills to pick things up and put them back appropriately are a little more complicated than the motor skills required to dump, spill, drag and scatter all over the house. I am also not opposed to adding a spoonful of sugar every now and then to make it more fun. But I'm the mom, not the maid.

The boys are getting better at following the rule, and Calvin has even starting to think just a little before they start a huge play project, and sometimes decides if the clean-up is worth it.

Of course my real clue that they are grasping the concept of "You did it, you clean it," is when the 3-year-old can use it on me:

Me: OK, buddy. You're all clean now. Take your diaper and put in the trash. (This is also an attempt at convincing him that diapers are not where it's at...)

Henry: No! Yuck! It's poopy!

Me: I know it's stinky, but you need to take it to the trash. You know, if you learn to go potty in the toilet, you won't have to carry diapers to the trash anymore.

Henry: No! You take it!

Me: It's not my diaper. You pooped in it, you take it to the trash. (This is also a little of me being a grouchy lazy pregnant mom...)

No! You took it off me, you take it to the trash.

Convoluted and brilliant all at once. And I don't even have to wait until he's sixteen to encounter this kind of thing.


An Ordinary Mom said...

I came hopping over to your site as soon as I saw you had posted in Bloglines to see if you had had your baby ... at least I got a good chuckle from the brilliance Henry :)!!

Unknown said...

Good rules, and yes, that's some good thinking on Henry's part.

You or the Code Yellow Dad must let us know as soon as new baby comes!! Does your hospital have WIFI? Now that's what they need to make a new momma feel right at home.

The Amazing Trips said...

Bwahaha!! I love his logic, it's absolutely brilliant!!

Our kids despise having their diapers removed, so if they could talk as intelligibly as Henry, I'm sure they'd say the same thing!!

Super Happy Girl said...

And I don't even have to wait until he's sixteen to encounter this kind of thing.
I'm not in a bubble popping mood right now :)

Unknown said...

Sniff. The kid is brilliant. Oh wait. Retract that sniff for scent purposes.... :-)

someone else said...

You have the most entertaining conversations at your house.

MotherT said...

Best of luck with the training! It takes LOTS of consistent repetition to get it through their heads. (Sometimes, I still have to remind them when they are home visiting!)

Ice Cream said...

You and I seem to have a lot of the same conversations with our kids =) Just wait till they get old enough for you to ask for extra help (like unloading the dishwasher, or cleaning out the car). Then you get the whole new argument of "I didn't make that mess, why should I clean it?"

Gabriela said...

lol-what a smartie!

good luck training them up. It's a lot of work to get them to do a little bit of work. Hopefully it will pay off at some point (thinking of my own kids!).

Anonymous said...

I say "I am not the hired help" so often that the kids are going to have it monogrammed on something one of these days...