Nostalgia Storytelling

The Joy of Making a Mess

As we all know, little boys were designed for wild fun and games

Ask any child: there’s an undeniable magic in jumping in puddles after it’s rained – the darker and deeper the better! There’s also an undeniable reason why this is universally forbidden by every mother on the planet.

The laughter-inducing, dancing joy it brings to a tiny person – this splashing around of brown droplets of muddy water – can never fully be appreciated by grown-ups: somewhere between childhood and teenage, the magic starts to fade and slip into oblivion. By age 40, the magic has completed its transformation… into a pile of laundry.

If puddles were secretly engineered at night to give out the absolutely biggest splashes possible when kids come to play, I wouldn’t be surprised. Somehow, these particular splashes, unlike all the other splashes that exist, manage to reach little kids’ hair, no matter if they were actually wearing beanies seamlessly taped on, and the dirt can even be found in their ears two weeks later, despite rigorous cleaning efforts.

As we all know, little boys were designed for wild fun and games, their pants eternally destined to have holes at the knees, and their appetites for cheese sandwiches and cookies never-ending. Another fact of life, as I remember my own childhood best friend stating wisely some 35 years ago, is that if you haven’t made a mess while eating, you haven’t enjoyed it.

These facts of life, very much like the fact that clouds always look like animals if you look long enough and that it’s impossible to grab keys from the bottom of a woman’s handbag even if she knows they’re there and can see, hear, and feel them, form an intriguing basis for examining the joys in creating a little bit of a mess.

What? You don’t believe me? Don’t tell me you’ve never as a full-grown person walked into a clothing store and enjoyed browsing, picking up this and that, trying something on in front of the mirror, discarding it, picking up something else, and finally walking out of the store whilst leaving chaos in your wake? “I don’t work here,” we justify to ourselves, and secretly smile.

Let’s admit it: we all have some form of mess we love, don’t we? Whether it’s a tossed salad or messy hairdo, sometimes it’s okay to shuffle those pieces around so they get mixed up. And sometimes it isn’t. It must be confusing for kids.

Personally, I have no recollection of whether I was a messy child or a tidy one, assuming tidy children even exist, but I do remember being nicknamed “Splashy Girl” by a French roommate when I was in my twenties. Apparently, as the story goes, I splashed water all over the floor while washing my face in the evening. Hubby also complains of this, but it’s probably just coincidence. All I see is a clean face! Bathrooms were made to handle water – in fact, I would even say it’s their destiny – so what’s the big deal?

If my secret delight is splashing drops of water on the floor, I certainly know what my kids’ is. I can almost hear it now: the thunderous sound of 2901 legos scattering all over the floor, cascading one after another in an increasingly quick wave, and always timed right after Hubby has finished saying, “Don’t pour the legos out of that box!”

Kids are great at spotting our weaknesses. Just to make sure, they repeat the action every evening to check they still get the desired reaction. It works like a charm.

The metamorphosis of magic into chores is complete.

49 replies on “The Joy of Making a Mess”

Ahhh! Such a visceral post. I had two immediate reactions. First I’ll tell you the second one: You are naughty for creating chaos shopping for clothes! I make damn sure to leave everything tidy and on hangers. 😀 But, my first memory was of when I was about 23 and returning from a night club. It was 4 am or so. While waiting for the bus I saw a puddle. It was glorious. I just had to. And telling you – the moment when my Doc Martins clad feet crashed that surface… epic. Of course, I also grabbed some foil and put it on the cake made for my 40th birthday, and then DIVED IN face first in front of all my guests who had to eat it later. 😉 So can’t help but side with your boys…

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Oh, I used to work in a clothing store and that’s what I was thinking of actually: the number of people who do exactly what I described is mind-boggling. 90% of our work days were spent folding clothes back in place. And sure, I do that sometimes too – though nowadays I mostly shop online!

You are officially the first adult I know who’s jumped in a puddle! Well done!!! But that cake though – yikes!!! 😀

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Definition of a child: Child = no chores. That is why we adults kind of sadly shake our heads when a child says: When I’m bigger, then…. Then, sweet baby, no more puddles to jump in, no more Lego to pour. Just splashes in the bathroom as a far distant reminder of what once was. 🙂 (Great sory again!)

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What a beautiful post. This reminds me of when I was a chid in the autumn and loved nothing more than diving into a big pile of raked leaves and burying myself up to the neck in crunchy vegetation. Now as an adult, when I see a pile of leaves I think: “Hmm…probably soggy in the middle, plenty of sharp twigs, high chance of insects – no thanks!” Our brains do change as we get older, but I miss that joy of childhood when dead leaves and dirty puddles felt like pure magic.

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It’s funny because I was just reading one of those couples stories where the woman was untidy and the man was basically obsessively orderly – a place for everything and everything in its place and zero deviations. That sounded like hell to me and I’m not an especially untidy person.
There are messes that fall into the ‘wrong place, wrong time’ category, but I hope people in general never lose that capacity to accommodate a bit of chaos in their lives.

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Such a lovely post… 🤩 This reminds me of my childhood… I used to walk to and from my school. The road was full of powdery dust. I used to walk very carefully in the morning when I go to school. But it was much fun while coming back home. I would run through that powder dust splashing them all over. They were such joyful days. 😊

I enjoyed reading this post very much.

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I am an unnaturally tidy person, meaning I force myself to clean up but left alone, would leave everything in a mess. I’m also an intolerant unaturally tidy person, meaning other people leaving a mess, drive me cra-crazy. I don’t think I’d do well in a clothing store.

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Hey Splashy girl! I think your boys have their mother’s gene!
At first I was racking my brains to find something where I was happy creating a mess and I couldn’t find it. Does that mean that I am OCD? Perhaps a little. Even my kids were horrified when a little boy came over to play when they were young and he tipped, as your boys do, the Lego all out over the floor. My boys used to rummage through it never tip it all out. We must be weird! But then I did think about my craft room. It is always messy – stuff everywhere. I know where everything is so I regard it as organized chaos and if anyone was to clean it up – I wouldn’t have a clue where I would find anything.

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Oh my, kids who don’t tip Legos on the floor exist after all!! 😍 I’m a minimalist, so I never have a lot of stuff around in the first place. My desk is empty, my cupboards regularly cleaned out and excess stuff sold or given to charity. But the kids’ stuff… now that’s a different story! 😄

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You sound just like my daughter – she rarely keeps anything for long. Even furniture is changed up as soon as she can afford it. I guess it might even constitute a hobby of hers! Lol.
As for the boys – I can tell you that the tidy stage didn’t last into adolescence when the wardrobe became a full-scale ‘floordrobe!’

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Oh-oh! “Floordrobe” sounds very desciptive! 😀 And hmm, I guess my trading kids’ clothes back and forth could also be considered a hobby. My mind is very, very often on the insides of our closets when I have a rare moment to myself! First, I organize them mentally, then I actually do it! 😀

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Hmmm, I had to ponder this one to see if there were any messy spots in my life. I tend to be pretty fastidious (and I always hang the clothes back up in the dressing room!), but I also take some pleasure in creating a (brief) mess on occasion – usually in the kitchen while making a big meal. I can tolerate chaos (and even secretly relish it) for a short time, but ultimately my innate sense of order, neatness, and cleanliness wins out!

I think I was this way even as a kid, but it’s fun to reminisce about my own kids, the youngest of whom has always loved a good mess (and still does), the middle one who tries to be neat and clean (but it’s a struggle), and the oldest, who is neat as a pin (would not even continue eating as an infant until I had wiped his face). Very fun post – you always have new and different ways of looking at everyday things!

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Thanks, Lexi! 🙂
When I had twins, a piece of advice that I seemed to hear from every direction was to lower my standards regarding cleaning. And I have successfully done that: I’ve learned that it’s not that important in the end. I console myself by reminding myself of the article I read where it said kids need exposure to germs for their immunity and also so they don’t develop allergies! 😀

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Despite being a full-grown adult, I get food on my shirt at almost every meal. I don’t know if I move the fork from the plate to my mouth too quickly or if I’m just clumsy. It’s gotten to the point where I have a few shirts I don’t mind getting stained, and I’ll change into one of them before I eat! I’d have to say your friend was right – making a mess means you enjoyed your food.

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Oh, I loved hearing this, so intriguing! It reminds me of the old joke of someone having a “drinking problem”, simply meaning they have difficulty coordinating their hand to move a glass to their mouth 😆 I must admit, I’m not the tidiest eater either: after having kids, I wolf everything down as fast as I can and often make a bit of a mess.

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I used to be a messy kid. I like to think I’ve gotten better with age.

The wet floor (or any surface, really) in the bathroom does annoy me because I don’t like mold and I don’t like having wet spots on my socks or sleeves. Years ago, I watched videos of this mixed-race father (I don’t remember what the mix was exactly, but maybe Canada and South America) with his adorable Japanese daughter. They moved to Japan and posted videos about their lives and how it contrasted with the US (I just looked it up and was able to find it: Anyway. I remember them showing us their bathroom. Apparently, a typical bathroom in Japan has a drain built into the floor and so you can go in, shower in the bathroom, rinse everything and then walk out and it would be considered normal. Not sure how they got it all to dry though…

You made me laugh with the entire bucket of legos being dumped onto the floor. Kids… They know what they’re doing. As they tilt the bucket slowly to make sure you are watching and then tilt it slower to show you they are doing it with premeditation. And then, just before you are able to get to the bucket, they dump it and laugh… Do they all attend some virtual school that teaches every kid on the planet how to do that?

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Much fun reading your thoughts on daily things! Puddles are actually made to jump into! 😆 Even as adult now, I too wish to jump on puddles (if my neighbours are not looking, hehe). In my childhood, you can usually find me under the drain, in the drain, in the mud, in the bushes, in the construction site piles of sand and also sometimes swimming in the flooded water outside the house during monsoon!

I think a child has no fear and doesn’t care what others think and living a care-free life – that I say is just beautiful and joyful.

Your kids and the lego got me laughing, their timing is always spot-on. Hahaha.

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I had to both laugh and ponder on this one.
Exactly the scenario with my daughter everyday. She had mastered definitely the art of making a mess and she is very good in it.
One day the lego figures are standing up, all in right place, in a blink of an eye, it´s all scattered on the floor and she is beaming with a wide smile after what she have accomplished. I think that´s priceless for her.
Sometime I asked myself if I should be the one to learn this art technique so I can undertand her more and never say ” Tidy up your Room” again.
Lovely post once again my dear Writer! Keep it coming!

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