All kids destroy things. I knew this when I had children because growing up my father used to tell us he had figured out our mission as his kids: to destroy everything he owned. (We would laugh and shake our heads, and occasionally feel guilty because we had just wrecked a car or broken a plate or destroyed a brand-new skateboard.)
But I didn’t truly comprehend it until I became acquainted with Prima and Secondo.
Prima especially. While all kids destroy things, Prima has a special gift at the creative, systematic and, Mr. Bailey and I should face it, total annihilation of her things.
Cutting Barbie’s hair? Boring. How about cutting her sister’s clothing in cross hatches in the back as they played fashion designer? Coloring on walls? Snore. How about working down her sidewalk chalk into a fine paste that she then uses to create a mural on the back of the house? Then uses a stencil and a bit more water to “paint” chalk letters onto the playroom floor? Not. Kidding.
Sneaking real food from the kitchen to play with in her playroom kitchen? Amateurish. Prima instead snuck cinders out of the fireplace (inconveniently located in the playroom) and created a sink full of ash consommé she ladled into bowls and served to her stuffed animals. Yup, oh, and she was only 2 at the time.
Give this child 10 minutes out of sight and she will use what she has at arms length to go anywhere her imagination leads. Mr. Bailey and I adore this about her. It also drives us absolutely batty.
Soil from potted plants becomes coffee mixed with water and infused with flower petals and grass for her drive-through coffee shop on the back patio. Boxes (some still in use) are broken down or built up into sets for plays. When the script calls for snow for several scenes, a tiny rip in an old stuffed animal is capitalized upon and a thorough dusting of white fluff decorates her stage.
Was I this – ahem – creative when I was a child? I ask myself, as I scrub Secondo’s skin to rid it of the “I love you” in black acrylic paint across her belly.
Prima explains to me she painted it across Secondo’s pink leotard, salvaged from the dress-ups, because they were playing American Idol, and, sorry Mommy, the paint just leaked through onto her skin.
In efforts at sanity, I have tried to corral her spirit into less destructive play. The playroom rules I posted encourage, “Please use only pretend water,” and “Please do not cut up tiny scraps of paper.”
But these attempts at setting reasonable limits have only spurred her inventiveness instead of curtailing the damage to our home.
To console ourselves, Mr. Bailey and I try to imagine what her ability of seeing new possibility in old things will bring Prima in her future – maybe she’ll develop unconventional therapies to help cure cancer or Lou Gehrig’s disease or perhaps she’ll work for NASA, inventing equipment for a Mars landing or maybe she will create materials to make commercial airliners destruction-proof.
This helps. At least until the next mangled, dismembered, destroyed, or dissected thing is discovered.