Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Destructo-Boy Rides Again

Maybe it’s because he’s rapidly approaching the “Terrible Threes,” but my son has been on a major destructive tear for the past few weeks. In the last couple of days alone, he has poured half a bottle of gold nail polish on my desk, scratched the heck out of that same desk with a ballpoint pen, glued my computer mouse to my mouse pad, written all over the back and arm of the couch with a dry erase marker, scribbled on the wall and table with crayons, drawn on top of the soda fridge with a Sharpie, cut up some documents on my desk, removed all the tires from three toy trucks, and shredded too many books to mention. Is it any wonder that we refer to him as Destructo-Boy?

Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a bad kid. He doesn’t destroy things just for the sake of destroying them. In fact, he doesn’t even intend to destroy them, and is sometimes mystified when I inform him that something he broke can’t be fixed. He’s just curious about everything, and his need to explore currently outweighs his need to obey my orders not to touch something. So even though he knows he’s not supposed to get his scissors out of the drawer, he can’t help but wonder what it would feel like to cut through that tempting piece of paper on the desk. The siren call of the unknown is just too strong to resist.

The result, unfortunately, is frustration on both our parts. I’m frustrated that I can’t trust him out of my sight for 30 seconds, and he’s frustrated that he gets in trouble when all he wants to do is figure out how something works or what it does. So how can we both survive the next year? What can I do to assure that twelve months from now most of my possessions will still be whole and functioning? The answer, I suspect, is: Energy channeling.

No, I don’t mean some kind of New Age technique involving chakras or feng shui or reiki.  I mean finding a way to nudge his curiosity and energy in a more positive, constructive direction. It might involve projects like making homemade playdough or finger-painting with pudding or helping build some Ikea furniture. It could involve physical activities like taking hikes or riding his tricycle or building sand castles. It might involve getting him out of the house to visit the library or a playground or spending the day at daycare. It might even involve starting pretend school by practicing counting, tracing letters, and sitting quietly for story time.

But whatever the solution is, I’d better come up with it quickly, otherwise I might not have any more possessions to protect. Besides, I have to be sure this destructive streak is quashed before his legs are long enough to reach the gas pedal of my car!

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