nothing sacred….

Some days I feel that my children have no concept of the value of “stuff.” I will often rant while in a temper that they treat everything like garbage then I go straight to “I’m just going to throw all your toys away!” or “Why can’t I have ANYTHING nice?”

Today, in the light of the morning sun as I listen to them play really nicely together (and having had nothing broken yet) I’m having this little revelation.

It really ISN’T that they treat everything like garbage. It’s just that they treat everything like experiment. They touch everything. They like to take things apart. They like to push buttons. They are extremely curious.

Most kids are curious. Mine have an added element. They are also courageous. They just try things. Sure, there are lots of moments when they are afraid, don’t get me wrong….it’s just that for the most part they are WILLING to push the button and see what happens.

Someone told me once that if they were in school that they’d learn to respect other people’s things faster, they’d have this “push buttons first, ask questions later” thing rooted out of them. I think that’s true. And somehow that makes me sad. We really do have such a short amount of time to be explorers before it’s rooted out of us.

As much as I HATE when they break something I LOVE now when Henry asks to take something apart. Most of the time I say “yes.” The lesson was in the asking and if I can, I reward that.

In the big picture moments like this one when I’m able to not generalize and just lump them all together into a lump of Demolition Men I realize that my 11 year old DOES respect other people’s things and her own things as well. My 8 year old is nearly there. My 6 year old sees the flicker of this reality and my 4 year old, while still clueless about the sacredness of “stuff” is very much engaged in the struggle of it all.

I like that I can see this.

I like too that I can see their remorse, real remorse when they make a mistake around this. It is what gives me the most hope. When they break something and see that I’m not delighted about it they are crushed. I think that if they were nonchalant or rebellious in that moment it would push me over the edge but I’m encouraged that they would have this moment of regret. It means that they are able to move out of themselves for a moment to see how their actions affect another person.

The goal here, I think, is that they’ll tap that moment before they start to tinker with something and somehow that is what’s happening organically. I hope they never lose their sense of curiosity, their spirit of adventure and their courage to explore while gaining a sense of respect and sacredness. If we all survive this grand experiment I am certain it will have been worthwhile. I am, however, hiding the good china until they graduate college.


5 thoughts on “nothing sacred….

  1. I have not been to your blog in a while (I can’t figure out that “reader” gig on google. yes, i’m that dense. but thank you facebook for leading me today! this is a beautiful post. and so is the last one. and i’m reminded this morning what an intuitive person and writer you are. and i’m also thinking about some quotes i read yesterday, that i think would make you smile. do you ever read “The Sun” magazine? if not, you should. in this months issue the last page -called “sunbeams” and dedicated to a series of quotations – is on the theme of humor. Here’s a favorite:

    Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing. -William James

    You have an artful, un-self-conscious sense of this paradox.

  2. I totally get it. My kids are so “creative” that it can get a little scary sometimes. They can make incredible messes, put things together they shouldn’t have (the old bed) and take things apart….They will be better prepared for the “real world” though! Hey, e-mail me at I want to come see your place for retreat purposes! Whitney

  3. I think boys or more adventurous than girls in the take-apart stuff. My daughter never really took things apart. She did however create interesting things in the kitchen. I let her measure, spoon, and mix pretty much what she was interested in. It was fun to see what she did, albeit messy. The really fun stuff was when we actually baked together when she was little, I would have her measuring and mixing. I bought a her mini gloves and apron and tea towel set. So when all is said and done what is a little mess.

    I have done the rant of put your things away and respect your toys and please try not and break my stuff – which hardly ever happened. I have pretty much given up on the room part because it is her room and there is usually full-on playing going on and I can see how much of a drag it is to have to clean up all the creative play. Our rule is if you want to play & have stuff out, it has to be kept in her room and not spread all over the house. It seems to work for us. Enjoy this curiosity, somehow as we get older it seems to get snuffed which is sad.

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