When B was around eighteen months old, he was every mother’s dream.
He cleaned up after himself.
Now, I can’t remember whether it was because I asked him to, or whether I’d asked him to often enough that one day, it just clicked and he started putting up his toys when he was through playing with them.
Either way, he would put them on the shelf, where they belonged, promptly and without fuss.
This went on for a long time. Many, many days.
About thirty of them.
And then, all of a sudden, the wiring in his brain changed and from then on, it was like pulling teeth to get him to pick up his toys. Forget them being put in any sort of reasonable order. I had to resign myself with being satisfied with them being off the floor and furniture, and being contented with having remained sane enough that I didn’t have to check myself into the nuthouse after a bout of nagging him to clean up.
He’s twelve now, and for the past year and a bit the only “toy” he’s really been interested in has been his computer. He alternates between attending YouTube University and improving his eye-hand coordination, visual acuity, and attention to detail via digital manipulation.
Otherwise known as playing video games.
So his toys have been, for the most part, gathering dust. Still, the few times in the past few months he’s taken something off a shelf, he hasn’t been inclined to put it up.
Until recently. The other day, I witnessed a shocking event. B was playing with my foot roller (which I have kept because I convinced myself that one day, I am going to start using it again). He was whipping it around like it was some sort of weapon. A few minutes later, deciding he’d had enough pretend sword fighting, he set the foot roller back on the book shelf.
Yes, that’s where the foot roller lives. I had too much clutter in a certain spot in the bathroom, so I decided the foot roller had to go elsewhere. So I did the sensible, logical thing and stuck it on an a space on a book shelf just big enough for the foot roller. Because the shelf, containing a variety of books, notebooks, and multiple-pocket folders – plus a couple of decorative boxes – wasn’t cluttered enough.
But I digress. B put the thing away without being asked, instead of leaving it on the floor or table or everywhere else where it doesn’t belong.
I wished I’d been making a video.
The very next day, he opened one of the millions of boxes that arrive at our door every year. He did so the way he always does, using the scissors that lives in the top drawer of the kitchen utility cart. Invariably, I’ve had to nag him to put the scissors up when he was done with them, because invariably, he’d leave them on the floor.
Guess what he did the other day, instead?
Yep. He put them back where they belong. Without me having to say a word. Or even give him one of those “mommy looks.”
Somebody should have been making a video of me being knocked down with a feather.
I’m not getting too excited. It may be just another month-long fad. It may be that he is only capable of remembering to pick up after himself every ten and a half years.
Or, my baby may be growing up.
In the meantime, I need to get my camcorder ready the next time he takes something off a shelf or out of a drawer. Just to have proof that he does, indeed, know how to clean up after himself.