Oct 28 2007

Why You Should Never Leave A 3-Year Old Unsupervised

I look after Destructo, my youngest son, during the day while my wife goes to work. He is three years old. I am also trying to build a business from home, so most of the time, while I am working, Destructo stays here cooped up in the office with me.

I have assembled a nice collection of educational, stimulating and entertaining toys he can play with whilst I keep him as a prisoner in my office. If you’re a parent, you know the sort of things … building blocks, toys cars, Lego blocks, rubber dinosaurs, action figures, noisy electronic beeping toys, crappy Happy Meal toys from McDonald’s, etc …

Generally, he will sit on the carpet here next to me and spend hours quietly making all of his toys function together in a seamless child’s universe where logic has no place and no contradictions ever exist. In his world, dinosaurs drive little cars on wooden train tracks and live in Lego cities, where they must fight robots, bad guys and every other “made in China” plastic toy so that everyone can become good friends in the end and obey their leader, who, of course, is my son Destructo.

Since Destructo is still in nappies, he doesn’t really have to leave my office at all, except to eat and go pick up his brothers from school in the afternoon. When things get pretty stinky in the office, it’s time for us both to take a little break and go have a snack or get some fresh air in the backyard or the porch just outside the kitchen.

Occasionally, however, Destructo realizes that a central character is missing in his stories. Usually it’s Bambi the dog (a stuffed deer), or Casey the dog, or Wappy the dog, or Skunky the skunk. He will then ask me if he can go fetch his friend and I’ll generally signal that it’s okay for him to leave the room.

Big mistake!

This is exactly what Destructo has been plotting, scheming and waiting for all along. He knows that if he acts like a little angel and plays nicely and quietly with his toys, after a certain time my guard will be down and I’ll be so fully engrossed in my work that I would nod “yes” to anything he asks.

“Daddy, can I go into the kitchen, turn on the hot plates on the oven, cook my toys and watch them burn and catch on fire?”
“Of course, honey!”

“Daddy, can I take my nappy off and smear poo all over the walls?”

“Daddy, can I go down into the garage and turn on all the lights in the car so the battery goes flat?”
“Just give me one more minute and I’ll come and help you!”

“Daddy, can I disappear into the playroom downstairs for 5 minutes and see what’s inside all of those unopened boxes you stacked so neatly around the room?”
“Of course!”

Which is exactly what happened!

By the time I realized Destructo had been gone out of my sight for several minutes and things had become strangely quiet in the house, the damage had already been done.

Here are some photos to prove it …

As you can see, Destructo managed to empty out every single box and container onto the playroom floor, with devastating and quiet efficiency. How can he create so much destruction without making any sound?

The children books that had once been neatly organized by size and theme and stood upright on the kids’ bookshelf got totally reorganized by Destructo so that Dr Seuss characters could openly mingle with Disney book characters, Spot the Dog, Thomas the Tank Engine and other famous creatures from many well-loved nursery rhymes. Talk about a publishing lawsuit waiting to happen …

You have to admit, the kid did a thorough job of leaving no storage box unturned.

I saw a quote recently in a movie – I think it was “The Butterfly Effect”, that went something like this … “Order Is The Dream Of Man, Chaos Is The Law Of Nature.”

After seeing what a three-year old force of nature can do to the downstairs playroom when left alone for a few minutes, I think it may be time for me to let go of the dream of living in a neat and orderly household.

At least for a few more years, until … no, wait … that’s when they turn into teenagers, which I’ve heard is when things really get worse …

The Lazy Househusband

(title post photo source: angel pic)


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