My son loves building things. Come back tomorrow and there’s a 90% chance I’ll begin my post with ‘My son loves destroying things.’ And it’s true, my son loves building AND destroying things. I think destroying wins, hands down. There are broken bits all over the place. Lego hands keep popping up in the cereal box. Half of a bat’s wing ends up in my shoe. On Christmas morning he’ll rip the snowman paper off his latest truck and proceed to slam it on the ground. He’ll flip it over, crash it into the wall, bend it as far back as possible, then, at some point, he’ll drive it into the toilet. If there are moving appendages on said truck, those will be torn off by lunchtime.
My husband thinks it’s funny.
“He’s learning how things work.”
“And that requires complete and total destruction?”
“Pfft, obviously you have never been interested in discovery.”
“Obviously,” I say and shoot him a you’re-full-of-crap eye roll.
I’m all for non-violent discovery. Peaceful discovery that’s about opening and closing doors instead of ripping them off. Give my daughter a toy oven and she’ll open the door, try all the buttons, check out all the gadgets. Give my son the same oven and the first thing he’ll do is pull the door down as far as it will go and stomp on it. If it doesn’t break, he’ll shove his little toddler-sized head inside the oven to find out where it’s attached and go to town.
Some of you might be making a mental note to avoid our home, or developing a list of excuses for why you can’t attend our annual Halloween party. Don’t worry. Despite all the evidence that points to it, I don’t believe he’s going to transform into Dr. Destructo and in a mad rage destroy Finland (if you hate Finland, sorry. You’ll have to find someone else to do the deed). As much as I hate to admit it, my husband is right. In the wrecking process, my son is learning. At least in these early years.
And every once in a while, instead of destroying things he wants to build something.
Like Monday afternoon when he asked me to build a motorcycle with him. Excited to embark on this new path with him, I sat on the floor and dumped out his building kit. For the next hour, he eagerly showed me where each part went and where screws were needed. He has a knack for that, apparently and I realized I might owe my husband an apology. With all that destruction, my son was indeed learning how things work.
While we worked, we chatted about superheroes and helmets and I loved every minute of it. I wish we had more days like this. Then it dawned on me. We could have many afternoons like that, if I joined in during his ‘destruction’ phases instead of looking on disapprovingly. I didn’t need to constantly encourage him to build a tower, a hospital, or do something productive. He was already doing something productive, but I wasn’t able to see it. It’s a good thing all my fussiness doesn’t phase him.
On Tuesday, he wanted to destroy it.