Lessons from Melting Beads

Leah Outten  @thegracebond
March 24, 2017  | Last Updated: March 24, 2017


My third child is three and is nothing like my others. From her outgoing personality to her blond curly hair, she is completely unique. Her most unique quality is her knack for making messes, which is honestly a pretty infuriating quality as her mother who has to clean up all the said messes. Even as a baby, she sat in her crib or car seat gleefully tearing apart board books one rip at a time. Under and around her crib held all the evidence — her poor little sister barely has any left to read at bedtime!


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The extreme messes happen daily around here when I turn my back. Today is no different. I'm sitting, taking a breather while checking Facebook, when I hear it — the waterfall of beads cascading onto the kitchen floor. It is the melting beads she shouldn't even have. She climbed up the wire shelving in the crap — I mean craft — closet and pulled them down herself. As I run to see the damage, I stop in my tracks where the carpet meets the linoleum. Hundreds, no, thousands of tiny plastic beads cover our moderate sized kitchen, scattered like a rainbow on my floor.

I take a deep breath, plug in the vacuum and order her to begin cleaning her gigantic mess, which is pressing into my feet — though thankfully not as painful as Legos. Proud of myself for containing my crazy and not yelling this time, I still silently stew in my anger.

Darn these plastic beads. I'm glad they will all be sucked up! They always are a mess and no one hardly plays with them anyway. And who has the time to iron them when their creations are done? Not me. I still have one sitting on a shelf waiting to be melted together, the last existence of the melting beads in our home. Even if I make time to pull out the iron that never gets plugged in (where is that thing, anyway?) the melted together plastic usually ends up broken apart by the three-year-old. So what is the point?

Eventually my daughter gives up and drops the vacuum with a thud as it is still running, saying, “My arms hurt!” So I tell her she did a good job with what she did as she runs off.

Trying to be a calmer and happier mom lately, I try to find something good in this mess as I suck up the rainbow littering my floor. What can I learn from this? Truthfully, sometimes all you can do is laugh. I wish I had taken a picture of the explosive bead mess before we had started cleaning. I often post pictures of the messes my wonderful daughter makes on my Instagram account. It isn't to shame her, it isn't to glorify my response, it simply is to share my misery and have others laugh with me to get through it. One moment at a time, one breath at a time.

Beyond wishing I had been a better Instagram mom in this moment and taken a picture, beyond thinking about never owning another melting bead set again, (Ever. If you buy one of my children melting beads, I will hide them and give them back to you next time it is your turn for a gift!), I search my mind with what good can come of this messy moment. Really, this is all I could come up:

At least my vacuum is excellent!

As I sway back and forth doing the vacuum cha-cha, I am grateful my vacuum picks up this colorful disaster with one gentle glide — just as the infomercial said it would.


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