Dead silence for 3 seconds.
“Big Mess” says Happy Chin.
I sigh and go to fetch the mop.
‘Big Mess’ is Happy Chin’s expression for any spillage or droppage, large or small, that he is responsible for. These two words have the ability to bring us running from any end of the house, to find anything ranging from a few drops of hot chocolate to a large container of leftover spag bol on the floor.
His main daily calorie intake takes place overnight, when he helps himself to leftovers from the fridge. In the morning, his bed resembles the rug Pro Hart decorates in the paint ads, with me cast as the cleaning lady exclaiming “Oh Mr Hart!”
The dogs, having stationed themselves outside his room since daybreak waiting for the door to open, fall upon this bounty with great enthusiasm and unpredictable digestive results (more Big Mess for me to clean up later on).
About 3AM last Sunday night I heard a crash coming from Happy Chin’s room. Struggling blearily from the depths of unconsciousness, I stumbled in to find he’d knocked his indoor plant off the shelf. Dirt and pieces of broken pot were strewn all over the floor.
“Sh*t,” I said.
“Sh*t,” agreed Happy Chin.
Excellent, I thought as I went to fetch the broom, another milestone in language development.
The Lamington is also extremely good at spilling things, knocking things over, breaking things and losing things.
No Thing is safe with him around.
I resigned myself during Happy Chin’s toddler years to the fact that we’d never have a tidy house, so we’ve mostly been able to take the mess in our stride. Although it is a mystery how 2 litres of milk can just wind up on the floor.
Part of the problem is the volume and measurement skill usually picked up in early childhood has taken the Lamington and Happy Chin a little longer to learn. I like to think they’re not glass half full people, they’re glass overflowing people. Usually the glass contains some sticky liquid that manages to elude all attempts to clean up and we are still finding in the cutlery drawer a week later.
Another problem for the Lamington is that our cereal bowls clearly aren’t large enough. His bowl is always filled to the rim with milk, so it’s not surprising a percentage of it ends up on the floor on the journey between kitchen and dining table. If we were sensible, we’d just line the kitchen floor with newspaper and tell him to eat standing up at the bench, but we are trying to encourage good eating habits here.
The Lamington is very interested on how things work, so to be fair, a lot of damage occurs simply because he is investigating possibilities. He’s also very artistic and is completely absorbed when creating paintings, drawings or sculptures. He loves clay and wood, and keeps a whittling knife by his bed so he can carve sticks, an activity he seems to find relaxing.
For him, the idea to decorate his new laptop with paint pens was an extremely good one. For us, not so much. Especially when it was discovered he’d knocked over the jar of water he was using to rinse his brushes onto the keyboard. Said laptop is now being repaired. Creativity can be costly. I can only hope he doesn’t forget us when he’s a successful artist selling his work for thousands – we are definitely owed a cut of that money.
Although if wealth was measured in sticks, rocks and shells we would be rich beyond imagining. As it is impossible for the Lamington to go anywhere without acquiring a stick or two, several rocks and often a bit of random headwear too, we have a small cairn of various sized boulders, a decent collection of kindling for the winter and a garbage bag of clothes for the Salvos stationed permanently by the front door. If you have been walking by the Hobart foreshore recently and mislaid something, why not stop by Lost Property at our house? You’re sure to find it.
On one memorable occasion, he came home from school with a car tyre in tow.
“Where did you find that?” asked Mr August.
“Behind the service station,” came the Lamington’s delighted reply. “There was a whole pile of them just sitting there!”
Mr A sighed and went to fetch the car keys.