If you haven’t seen “Wreck-It Ralph,” you’re welcome to come to our house – not to watch the movie itself, but for a demonstration of the plot. In the 2012 Disney animated picture, protagonist Ralph instinctively (and not maliciously) breaks everything he comes into contact with, while Fix-it Felix earns accolades as the guy who saves the day as a one-man clean-up and rescue crew. In our house, Frank is Ralph and the rest of us are Felix.
For example, in the course of an hour on Friday, as Patrick and I were preparing to leave for our anniversary trip to Wildwood, Frank managed to:
• find himself up to his elbows in the toilet
• unpack my suitcase
• deshelf Collin’s book collection
• move the bench barricading the steps and escape to the upstairs
• dispatch half a case of baby wipes (even attempting to eat one)
• break the gate at the top of the steps by rocking it with his surprisingly solid upper body weight
With a list of escapades like that, it’s easy for a parent to get frustrated. The last thing we need is another project to complete in our rush out the door. Plus, it’s disappointing to discover that our attempts at babyproofing have been smited by someone less than half our size with a two word vocabulary and a drooling problem. It’s Spy vs. Spy and we’re the one left with the stick of dynamite – and the ensuing mess.
But what we fail to realize in the fallout of baby mess-making, is that they don’t see the world like we do. Their values, for the most part, don’t align with ours. We want order, consistency, and a little bit of peace in our homes, but for a one year old, chaos, novelty, and a taste of the wild are essential for learning.
We need to let toddlers be Wreck-it Ralphs while we patiently and diligently play the role of Fix-it Felix. Frank is going to make messes for awhile, but, as I’ve seen with Collin, he will grow out of it and learn the value of organization. Collin cleaned up all of their toys by himself that Friday. Granted, he stowed all of them in Frank’s Pack ‘N Play, the one place where he can’t get into trouble, but, I’m proud of Collin for trying.
And so Wreck-it Frank will continue to make the Barberry house look like it did after Sandy came through. But it’s for a good cause. In fact, I think I’ll call him Frankie the Explorer instead.
Image via Flickr, César Rincón