Crying Over Spilled Milk (Or Paint)
What is it about kids that make them so darn messy? The phrase, “Don’t cry over spilled milk” was obviously invented by a parent somewhere in this world who has cleaned up enough spilt milk from the floor, cupboards, and headliner of her mini-van that she realized getting upset over it was a waste of time.
We all know the feeling. House is clean one minute, and then ten seconds later – the kids rush through one room and it looks like a band of gypsies moved in (no offense intended to gypsies, I personally find them fascinating).
As a stay at home parent, I have taken it upon myself to be in charge of taking care of my home. It means a lot to me to provide a clean environment that is organized (for my sanity) and safe for the kids. Since my husband works, I feel like it is my job to take care of the housework. And this includes lots and lots of spilled milk.
I thought that my 15+ years of motherhood had sort of mellowed me out when it came to messes. The thing is spilled milk is one thing. But spilled paint is entirely another.
The other day, I was touch-up painting the living room. The kids weren’t home. As I took a break between coats, I left the paint can in the corner of the living room, knowing I would be back to finish in a few minutes. Next thing I know, in runs my 6 year old with the half-full gallon of green paint, running in the kitchen – chucking it into the air like a softball.
Of course, the lid was not on tight. Of course, it landed on the brand new carpet I had just bought for my kitchen – open side down, spilling copious amounts of green paint on the carpet. Of course, I cried. Like a baby. And then my 6 year old cried.
Oh, the things I wanted to say at that moment. What were you thinking? Why did you do that? What is wrong with you? Go to your room! But all I could do was sit there and watch the paint flood the carpet and holler for the brood to go and grab as many towels as they could find. (If you have any ideas how to get paint off the floor – let me know). Even without me saying a word, my 6-year-old feeling bad about the damage, flooded with tears.
All I could say was, “It’s no big deal, dear – we can fix it. No need to cry over spilled milk!” She looked at me with a tearful expression and said, “But mama, it’s not milk!”
After the paint settled (otherwise known as dried), I looked at my finally finished decorated kitchen, and the big green paint stain on the new carpet. I cried again inside my head. Sometimes it feels that despite my best efforts to provide the perfect house – things go wrong. Paint spills. Windows break. Beds get peed on. Dishes shatter. The dryer chokes up on me. The list is endless. And this is just life.
The next day, when my daughters came home from school – the carpet was turned around so that the paint stain was in the least obvious place in the kitchen. And there on top of it was a big floor pillow I found at Big Lots. “Mama, that looks beautiful,” said my daughter. Grateful that she wouldn't have to literally come face to face with her mistake every stinking day of her life. I agreed.
Problem solved! My advice: Stuff happens. When we teach our kids to get over it, find solutions, and move on – we teach our kids that few things in life are truly, really worth crying over.