I should have taken a photo of the scene of the crime. But, I didn’t take a photo. I was too busy trying to keep my cool.
Last night, my son requested to play with his rice sensory bin. I was happy to oblige. We spread out the white plastic tablecloth we use as a play mat and took out his bucket of tools (utensils, cardboard tubes, different shaped containers), construction trucks, and coffee stirrers (he pretends they are candles on an all rice birthday cake). I reminded him the ONE rule for play… he can make as much mess as he wants ON THE MAT. He can pour out every last grain of rice onto the floor as long as it stays ON THE MAT. He can mix it, dump it, sprinkle it, and even put his feet in it as long as it stays ON THE MAT. One rule. That’s it.
He was playing so nicely with his rice. I even heard him making up dialogue for his trucks as they worked together on the construction site. Since everything seemed under control, I stepped out of the room to clean up from dinner. Then I heard little bursts of a sprinkling sound. It’s fine, I thought. He’s still playing on the mat. He’s probably just dropping handfuls of rice back into the bowl. Then, I heard a ting sound that wasn’t as familiar. I didn’t recognize the noise of what the rice had bounced off of and I started to get concerned. I checked in with him from the kitchen. He assured me that he was just playing and everything was fine. Since I wasn’t in a position to look into the room (soapy hands), I took his word for the moment. But then I heard the sound again and I knew something was up. As I quickly washed my hands so I could go investigate, in walks my son. “Come,” he says, and takes me by the hand to his toy room. “Look!”
And there… all over the toy room floor… were hundreds of grains of rice. Rice on the carpet. Rice on the hardwood floors. Rice on the couches. Rice in my shoes. Rice in my baby’s swing. Rice on my laptop. And the ting? Rice on the television.
It was everywhere. I took a deep breath and how I managed to stay calm, I’ll never know. Inside I wanted to scream or cry or run away and join the circus. I quietly said, “What happened in here?” His response was, “It was raining.”
As a mother of a toddler, you have to be prepared for anything. Toddlers are still learning self-control, and many of them have a hard time with this skill. In this case, the desire to create a thunderstorm was so overwhelming that it could no longer be contained. Of course, I knew this could happen, but still didn’t expect this level of destruction. I asked him if he remembered what my one rule was for playing with the rice. He remembered and was matter of factly able to repeat it back to me. It seemed, however, that this storm came surging through the toy room without much warning – like a flash flood or a tornado. And, as with most bad storms, cleaning up the devastation is tiresome, disheartening, and really hard work. Everyone pitched in to help put the room back in order. Still, somehow, I managed to never raise my voice. My son, knowing he had made a boo boo, apologized to my husband and me and said he would try harder to remember next time. Then, he picked up his broom and began sweeping.
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