Enjoy, Don’t Destroy

Several years ago, I was walking in the woods with Colin after a string of rainy days. Everything was green and there were so. many. mushrooms! He was fascinated by their bright colors and squishy texture, and, like toddlers do in their own way, wanted to learn more about them – with his feet! I gently pulled him back, crouched down to his level and said:

Enjoy, don’t destroy.

Since then, that short phrase has become a house rule. It can pretty much be applied to anything. For example, Colin and Owen LOVE to rip apart beds so that they can play in the blankets and pillows. I don’t mind when they do that on clean sheet day (that’s what my family calls the day that the bedding gets washed, usually Sunday), but I do mind it drives me crazy when they do it the other days because bedrooms just look cleaner with a tidy bed. I remind them:

Enjoy, don’t destroy.

Sometimes, I remind them about the house rule in question form. As I catch them coloring on their Green Toys Fire Truck with marker, I ask, “Are you enjoying your toy, or destroying it?” Colin will think for a moment and reply in his funny four-year old way, “Destroying it, Mommy.”

“Well, what should we do to solve this problem?”

“I’ll get some wipes, Mommy.”

Awesome. The problem has been solved (by him) without nagging, harping, or barking orders on my behalf AND he learned something AND had an important value reinforced:

Enjoy, don’t destroy.

Or, there are the whining days. Oh, the whining days! Those days that the boys are tired (for whatever reason) and put on their cranky pants when getting dressed instead of their jeans. On those days, when I’m feeling frustrated with their choices and want to raise my voice or hurry them along to match my speed, I remind myself:

Enjoy, don’t destroy.

And, of course, there are the times when things just don’t go right. Spilled juice on a freshly mopped floor. Low gas in the tank (which in my case, creates anxiety-like symptoms because of my fear of running out of gas and being stranded in rural Michigan. Like, when you are already running late, but a certain small child tugs on your leg because he needs help with his shoes. You could just pick him up and go, or take the time to teach. All of these moments which can be frustrating and scary are real life:

Enjoy, don’t destroy.

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8 thoughts on “Enjoy, Don’t Destroy

  1. Thanks for the much needed reminder. It is always “easier” and faster to destroy. In reality, it only takes a few more seconds to “enjoy”. I love this statement. I may have to use it!!

  2. Melissa, your blog is so lovely. What lucky boys you have, and what a lucky audience to read about your adventures together.

  3. I really like your family reminder to ‘enjoy don’t destroy’! It sure goes a long way! I need to come up with something similar for my 8-year-old son at school. (He has special needs but is in a public school and does not communicate like an 8-year-old, so it ranges from two to five-years in language skills! Anyway, your idea really inspired me!)

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