Say “Yes” to Mess

When we built our house seven years ago, one of the stipulations I put on moving was that we would have a giant sand pile for the kids.  Not a sand box, but a pile.  All my childhood, my nearby cousins had a huge sand pile with boulders in their backyard, and I was always jealous of the fun they could have in that sand pile–they made rivers, reservoirs and mountains, cities, towns and roads.  I wanted some of that same experience for my own kids.  We couldn’t bring in boulders, but we put an entire dump truck load of fine, clean sand in the back yard.

Several family members were astonished by the presence of sand in my backyard.  They were surprised that someone as picky about housekeeping as I am (or as they perceive me to be) would want a sand pile.  But I was adamant, and it has been a wonderful addition to my kids’ outdoor time.  Yes, they do have to be stopped at the back door and brushed off, and there probably is a half ton of sand under my living room carpet right now (the other half ton is still out there.)  But innumerable hours have been spent building and playing in the sand.

However, this summer I have hesitated to let my kids turn on the water faucet and play in the sand.  Yes, it was the mess factor.  I remember how much fun they have, and then the changing clothes and hosing off that is involved afterwards.  But today I just sucked it up and let them play in the sand with water.

They made cement.

They dug a pond.  (The technical name for this foamy stuff is “Indian soap.”  Don’t ask how we know.)

And they cleaned up after themselves!  Who knew that seven and nine is old enough to clean up after themselves!  Thank goodness I said yes to the mess.

Is it easy for you to say yes to mess?  What are the messy projects your kids are doing this summer?  Please leave me a comment.

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  1. Nin

     /  June 27, 2012

    Jen, do you remember that when they brought the sand, they brought it in a cement truck?
    They unloaded it in small piles, and it hardened into semi-permanent hills. I was really angry about that and besides the sand the kids came in with cemented knees. But the marvelous thing about that was, those hills were the foundation for all that building and you kids even dug tunnels in some of them. It turned out to be just the place you so happily described. Thanks for the reminder, and the good memories.

  2. Yes! I am a horrible housekeeper, so the mess doesn’t bother me as much as some other folks. I grew up playing in the dirt; I think we had a sand pile at one time, too. My kids both love digging in the dirt. My daughter cannot stay out of any water. So they are always dirty. I think it’s a good antidote to all the technology in our lives.

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