My Toddler’s Fondness for Neatness
Written by Mom Babble's Gail
My son is usually very eager for his nightly bath. Most nights he’s ready to go in the tub before I even have a chance to turn the water on. However, there was one night when he didn’t want to go in. He stared at the tub and said, “yucky!” He then proceeded to make a wiping motion with his hand, while looking at me as if to say, “Seriously Mom, you call this clean?”
When I think of my toddler’s fondness for neatness, I have to laugh because his father and I are decidedly not clean freaks. We aren’t like “Hoarders” bad, but there’s a reason we don’t host a lot of dinner parties.
I realize I am lucky in this regard, having a clean child forces me to a least attempt to be a better homemaker. Here are some of the ways my son keeps me on my toes:
1. You know those ushers who wipe your seat at a baseball game? That is me during mealtime. My son insists on having his chair dusted off before sitting down. Next time, I’m waiting for a tip.
2. He demands a clean plate whenever he is served something new to eat. Expecting the same kitchen standards that Gordon Ramsay demands from his “Hell’s Kitchen” contestants.
3. He asks for his cup and plate to be kept clean during his meal. He’s even gone as far as taking a napkin and dabbing the edge of his plate if any of the contents of his meal should spill out of place.
4. He refuses to leave the table before wiping his hands and face. On the rare occasion he forgets to clean himself, he comes back when called. No chasing a sticky child around for this mama.
5. He actually enjoys cleaning up his toys. He is often the first to volunteer to help tidy up after a party.
6. He helps put his clothes away. Granted, sometimes the socks go in with the shirts and the pants go in with the pajamas.
7. He organizes. As soon as he was able to recognize that certain things go together, my son has to have everything in its proper place. For example, he groups items in the bath not just by similar shape, but by actual brand making sure both the “Herbal Essences” shampoo and conditioner are placed side by side.
8. He cleans the tub while he is taking his bath. There is one particular tile near the faucet that must be scrubbed. Every. Single. Time.
9. He asks for a new shirt if the one he’s wearing gets wet or dirty. He could be enjoying his favorite meal, but if his clothes get messed up during the process, he will stop eating until he has something clean to wear. Let’s just say we don’t serve a lot of pasta and tomato sauce at our place.
10. He will offer a tissue or napkin to another child that looks a bit too messy for his standards. He did this one time during an ice cream social at my parents’ synagogue. Sure, it’s sweet he wants to help another kid. Or, maybe he just can’t stand messy people.
So, where does this penchant for tidiness come from? It looks like it skipped a generation or two in our family. My mother-in-law is neat as is my father, and my husband and I both had grandmothers who would cringe at the site of our apartment. I would like to think they are looking down on our son feeling relieved that he will keep us in line.
I admit there are times when I worry my son’s desire for cleanliness and order might be obsessive and keep him from enjoying childhood. Yet, for all his love of being neat, he still enjoys getting dirty. He will jump in puddles, play in the dirt and cover his face in spaghetti and meatballs. He’ll just want a bath when he’s done.
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About the Author: Gail Hoffer-Loibl is a regular humor contributor at Mom Babble. She is the mother of two spirited boys. When she’s not catching up on sleep or trying to use the bathroom in peace, she enjoys writing for her blog, Maybeillshowertoday.com. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.