The Parenting Dilema Provided By A Simple Cardboard Box

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This is a cat, not a child, but he’s easier to photograph in a box than the kids are.

My kids love cardboard boxes. The bigger the better. They draw all over them, poke air holes in them and turn them into caves and forts and castles and space ships and boats and things I can’t even comprehend. In this day and age of overly electronic kids I’m proud as a parent to have kids who use their imaginations so much. I’m also impressed at how much better playing in a cardboard box is for their social skills, their problem solving skills, and their intelligence than anything school has been able to provide. But I have a dark secret:

I hate the cardboard boxes.

And it’s not just the cardboard boxes. I hate everything imaginative about my kids because it’s SO messy. The paper, the tape, the glue the markers, the crayons, the glitter…oh my gosh, the glitter. I hate it all. I grew up in a spotless house and that need for organization and hyper-cleanliness has funneled down to me in adulthood and I find it really hard to balance the need for a spotless house with the desire to raise free-thinking wild, creative kids who will function well in future society.

Becky and I agreed early on we would never have pod kids. We hate pod kids. I like kids with wild hair and play clothes who look like kids, not child models or clones of pretentious adults. We don’t do posed photos and church clothes look a lot like Saturday clothes. We keep their clothes clean enough to stay off the radar of nosy “do-gooder” parents and school folks, but that it. The house though is another story. I try to keep up and do as much cleaning as I can, but I hate when I can visibly see my cleaning interfering with their learning and creativity. I suspect this will be a life-long battle and when they’re grown and out of the house I’ll miss finding melted crayon in the carpet and picking glitter out of my clothes.

But right now. Ugh.