The other day at church, someone asked me at what age do kids stop systematically dumping everything out. This particular little boy is almost 18 months and apparently likes to get out every single toy he owns, as well as anything else within his reach. Not to play with; just simply because his favorite thing is to unload anything he can reach. (I can relate.) The funny thing is, this dad (asking the question) is a physician's assistant, and I felt like I should be the one asking him. When does it end?
The following came to mind:
The twins can get past some of the drawer and cupboard locks, and will still unload all the clean dish towels and all the dvds.
Annie and Maddie have been known to climb onto the counter to grab the box of cereal I neglected to put away on top of the fridge, and empty it on the floor.
Elizabeth, instead of putting away all the books that the twins dumped off the bookshelves like I asked, helps the books scatter further. (It was making the twins laugh.)
Elizabeth and Emma go through the box of dress up clothes to find the important dress/shoe/purse on the bottom and leave everything scattered on the floor.
Annie and Maddie climb on the couch and throw every cushion, including the large ones you sit on, on the floor.
Discarded clothes at the end of the day don't always get put in the laundry room.
Annie likes to put used silverware away in the drawers.
Fruit snack wrappers are found, having been dropped willy-nilly on the floor.
All the kids like to do their own sprinkling of powdered sugar on their crepes, so the entire table gets dusted.
I have nail polish on the table from some one's not-too-careful application.
Emma, at any one time, has at least 2 books going. We are lucky if we can find the AR book in the morning, so she can take it back to school. It can be on her bed (from late-evening reading), the toy room, the living room, the bathroom, accidentally shoved in with our books on the book shelves, in the car...
Instead of taking naps like good little 2-year-olds, Annie and Maddie rearranged their beds so they could reach the humidifier on top of their dresser, got the back-up binkies and got into a new package of diapers and unloaded them. If that wasn't enough, Maddie pooped, took off her diaper and walked in it all over her room.
At any given point during the day, there are Barbies, refrigerator magnets, crumbs, hair rubber bands and clothes on my floor.
This is just stuff from the past week. I think what I'm getting at is- it will never end. The method evolves, but the child will NEVER stop making messes. Not in the first 8 years of life, which is all the experience I have at the moment.
Yet, I'm looking at this harassed dad, who has spent the last week with his son (mom being newly on bed rest, and mother-in-law hadn't arrived yet) and he is clearly looking for some reassurance.
So I lie. "It seems to taper off sometime between 18 months and 2 years."
And then I wait for the bolt of lightening to hit me. I told a big lie at church.
But it never came. Whew.