Kids and the Art of The Mess

Geek Culture


Anyone who has kids, or knows someone who has kids, or has seen those post-incident photos that intermittently make the rounds via e-mail (that’s a roundabout way of saying pretty much everyone) knows that kids are absolutely unsurpassed in their ability to make a mess.  I’m not talking about the kind of mess that I make when I’m sanding drywall- that’s certainly high up on the list of messes I’m capable of making, but it’s still under relatively controlled circumstances, and just as importantly, it’s anticipated.  My wife knows I’m sanding drywall, so we both know to expect a bunch of dust and we take the appropriate measures to minimize the impact.  Not even the eating mess- toddlers are especially skilled at this one, but again, you know it’s coming, so you’re prepared.

No, I’m talking about a world-class mess, the kind of apparently random but utter disarray that leaves you gob smacked: first because it’s even possible; second because it has happened in your house/car/yard and it was so deathly quiet that you had no idea of what horrors were taking place; third because it was your kid(s) who masterminded the calamity; fourth because you quickly realize that they didn’t actually mastermind anything, it somehow just happened; fifth because you realize it took only a few minutes to make, but is going to take you hours of hard labor to clean up; and finally, because if it’s a really good one, the effects may stretch into days.

I experienced a rather mild version of this phenomenon this weekend.  My daughter was watching a movie in our room and she came across one of those neck pillows used for long car drives.  I think it was in our laundry or something.  Tasha somehow managed tear open a seam and out spilled a gazillion tiny foam spheres used to stuff the thing.  She tried to clean it up, which made the situation roughly ten times worse.  By the time I discovered it, we had wee foam beads in the bed, all over the floor, in the dresser drawers, in our shoes, stuck all over the TV (any sign of static and they come flying at you), and all over the upstairs bathroom sink and faucets.  This was also sufficient time for the cats and dogs to walk by, collect the stuff all over their fur and begin the process of distributing tiny foam balls throughout the house.  Just before getting that sinking feeling that something was amiss, I found some stuck to my eyebrows and hair, and I hadn’t even been up to that floor! 

A few hours worth of vacuuming, a lot of shaking out of bedding and clothes, and the worst of it was dealt with.  Hopefully none of the animals decides to try eating the ones I missed on the first round of cleanup (no doubt the bloody things are highly toxic), but I expect it will take a few days for the last remnants to work their way through the household.

Previous -and far more spectacular- world-class messes attributed to my kids have included talcum powder down the furnace vents (pictured below- please excuse the water spots on the photo, I think I was crying when I took it), tubes of glitter released en masse in the playroom (it’s cooler than you might think to go to work and have glitter fall out of your shirt sleeves in a meeting), hardwood floors given an updated look with nail polish, and ashes from the fireplace used to decorate the rec room (described in more detail here).


I’ll bet there are some pretty good stories and/or photos out there.  Got any that will make me feel better?

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