It’s ok, it’s a nice thought. You’re allowed to have it. Just don’t get stuck on it. Having a boy help you clean up his mess would be such a satisfying and pleasant parenting moment… But it’s not gonna happen.
When asked to help clean up, boys usually run the other way. Or stare blankly at you as if you’ve just asked them to compose a symphony. Even when they do summon some energy or act helpful, do not fall for this. Things are only going to get worse.
This is because boys possess the astounding ability to multiply even the slightest messes into a catastrophic wreck. It’s nearly miraculous, like when Jesus just kept pulling fishes out of that kid’s lunch and fed 5,000 people. Only with chocolate milk. One of my boys can take three ounces of spilled chocolate milk and spread it over 950 square feet of our house. Last week Nathan dumped his water all over the chair and floor (probably doing this), so I gave him the typical fatherly reprimand of “Well?? Clean it up.” Then he blows through $9 worth of paper towels and there’s still enough water on the floor to pose a drowning hazard to his two-year-old sister. It’s impossible.
One of my personal favorites occurs when I’ve cleaned the grime off the inside of the sliding glass door and moved on to the outside. Then a boy comes up to assist in cleaning by following my every motion on the outside of the glass with his hands on the inside. This procedure is nearly always performed immediately following a snack time involving large quantities of peanut butter. It’s like a vicious cycle – I return inside to remove the fresh peanut butter, he goes out. Rotate. Oh, now he has a popsicle and he’s teaching his baby sister how to help. We may be here for hours.
But don’t despair completely. You have to keep at it, because at some point some of the training may pay off. Not exactly when you want it to, but it’s a start. My wife experienced this one night as she was teaching Nathan to empty the kitchen trash. After helping him pull the full bag all the way out of the tall white can, she continued with a lesson on how to tie the bag shut. Three seconds after she turned her back, Nicholas rolled up and dumped his entire paper plate full of taco debris right down the chute. Tomatoes, sour cream, and greasy ground beef all over the inside of the empty can and every single fresh trash bag that we conveniently store in the bottom.
He never even hesitated, just rolled right on out the door.
Boys cannot be bothered with the intricacies of this cleanup business. They have more pressing messes to tend to.