March 30, 2011

Cleanliness is next to Speechlessness

Quint’s room was a fantastic mess, to be sure.  We’d had a long day of indoor play.  Games, bubbles, cars, music, stories, and five-star “meals” cooked up one right after the other on plastic-ware and pretend stoves. 

As we tucked him in for bed, Anton made a sweeping gesture over the room and noted what disarray it was in, adding “it’s a BOY room…it’s supposed to be messy!”  We laughed and gave kisses and hugs and  gently closed the door, flipping out the light as we left.


Moments later, Anton called to me. 

“He’s up, I think.  In his room.  His light is on.  I think he’s playing.”

I made haste. Frustrated that he was out of bed.  A little miffed that he would be up and “playing”.  I could hear him clanking around. 

My signature “move” is to thrust open the door to gain the element of surprise.  And I did so with GUSTO, causing him to turn with wild eyes and yelp audibly. 

Red-handed and caught – he held three plates in one hand and some plastic strawberries in the other. 

I might have said “WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT OF BED, WITH THE LIGHTS ON?!?!” a little too loudly.  I might have. 

But as my eyes began to settle on the room at large, I walked out.  I needed back-up.

“You need to come in here”, I motioned to Anton, already in bed himself.

We walked back, where Quint had resumed his project.

“Me clean my room, Daddy!”  He said with exuberant smiles and genuine happiness. 

“I see that, son.  I can see that”.

The once COVERED floor was completely clean.  And he was still busy.  Oh yes.

We sat down.  Anton in the rocking chair and I on the wooden chest. 

We were, in a way…speechless.


Quint bustled around us, placing things exactly where they belonged and making short order of what was once a mess into a very clean and organized little space.

His sheer delight to be cleaning his room was more than we could find words to respond to.  Our well-intentioned speeches about getting out of bed and breaking the rules went out the window and we sat somewhat dumbfounded watching him take great joy in clearing his mess.

I wanted to find fault in the late night project he had undertaken, but he was so thorough and cute and well-intentioned, all I could do was shrug my shoulders and hide smiles and stare bewildered at Anton as we exchanged confused and bemused glances.

We offered him occasional praise and he beamed.

The clothes were put in the hamper
The toys were put in their respective “spots”
The shoes were placed in the shoe basket
The books, placed back on the bookshelf
The room was spotless.

And so after about ten minutes, give or take, the boy was placed back in bed.  Fresh kisses.  Fresh hugs.  And tucked in.  Again.


And I reminded him that though he had done a wonderful job cleaning up his room, and that as much as I appreciated all his hard work, this time he would need to stay in bed and leave the light out.

He agreed and was off to sleep in minutes.  Must have been tired from working the night-shift.

I’m still savoring the moment, however.  I think I might be for a while…just remembering the way his little face was lit up “me clean my room!” and the way he took so much happiness in making us proud of him, (despite the, ahem, hour of the day).

Who says a boy’s room is supposed to be messy anyway?

He’s only three for a blink…