Claire’s balloon comes floating by her high chair. Tiny, sticky fingers reach up, grab the string and start inching it downward. George and I both see what’s coming. Should we intervene? Too late. The balloon is smashed into the tray a few times and released, replete with remnants of yogurt, sardines and rice. “Bye, Bye” Claire says and waves, as it ascends to where it came from. How about that? She has found a way of making a mess on the ceiling without throwing anything. I didn’t think that was possible. It’s pretty ingenuous, really.
The beautiful irony of the whole thing is that Claire does not paint the ceiling with sweet potato by design. She doesn’t even know she’s doing so. It’s just the innocent by-product of exploring her world. How could I possibly say no? Is it really so bad when she pulls the cat’s tail? Or takes all of the clothes out of every single drawer in the bedroom for the hundredth time that day? She doesn’t know any better, and she’s having such a great time!
I’m finding that my job as mother is becoming more and more about weighing the damage of her actions against the fun she’s having. I’ve decided that if she’s not killing herself or another sentient being or if Spray and Wash or some other heavy solvent will take out the damage, I’m down for whatever she has in mind. This philosophy does not come without a few daily cringes though. Living with the amount of chaos a toddler can generate is a learned skill. I’ve found that it’s best just to surrender to Claire’s way of seeing the world.
I’m not so sure she’s too far from the truth, either. Ask any Zen master and I’m sure he or she will tell you that order is transient anyhow. Besides, Claire will be “civilized” soon enough. For example, I’ve already begun teaching her how to put the clothes back in the drawers…Hmm? So Claire is teaching me about the meaning of life; I’m teaching her…household chores? Makes you wonder who’s raising whom, doesn’t it?