Today we welcome back the very excellent Olivia Flint for the final ever guest blog on One Man and a Wee Bairn. Do you mind having a messy child?
As anyone who's spent any time with me will tell you, I find it hard to cope with mess. I like things to be clean and tidy. This applies to hanging out with children as well. I'll be constantly wiping hands and faces, continuously clearing up and keeping things as tidy as I can. I'm happy to get toys out and be messy, but I like ordered mess so I'll tend to encourage tidying up after each game before we get the next toys out; limited mess is better than uncontrolled mess.
I really appreciated my best friend (and sister-in-law) picking me up on this a couple of weeks ago. Her 3 year old son was eating a yoghurt and every time he put the spoon up to his mouth, a bit dripped onto his t-shirt. I've seen this happen with cereal and ice cream as well, and I mentioned that she might want to let him know that he was making a mess, or put a bib on him. Her response was very refreshing, "It's OK, it's got to go in the wash anyway, I want to encourage him to be a child."
Since then, I've noticed how messy children are and how they don't care. They just eat however they want to eat, they fall over, they jump in puddles, they get mucky and they drip raspberry juice, as in this picture:
Obviously, children aren't responsible for cleaning so they don't have a reason to mind, but even as someone who has to wash my clothes, I think I can learn a lot from them. I think it's liberating to sometimes eat a yoghurt without wiping the bottom of the spoon over the edge of the pot before putting it up to your mouth, or to go cycling in the pouring rain through puddles and mud and not worry about what's happening to your clothes.
You don't want to be the adult walking around with ice cream stains all over your t-shirt but I think cleaning a child's hand as soon as it gets dirty makes them more aware of it not being clean and then they want to be super clean all the time. I would imagine this leads to them being quite uptight as an adult and having a heightened awareness of not being clean. This in turn could cause things like not being able to shower when camping to become quite stressful.
I think it could help me have a more relaxed attitude to mess if I took a leaf out of a child's book and just let myself go when it comes to mess sometimes; not being tied to having to constantly clean and tidy up sounds quite liberating to me.