Monday, May 17, 2010


We have entered a phase I'm calling BEAN DESTROYER OF WORLDS. (It's not as much fun as you'd like to imagine.)

It isn't easy to describe other than that: wide sweeping arms, throwing the entire contents of table tops and toy boxes and bags of blocks onto the floor. Or when the fancy strikes, there is cabinet emptying.

My most favorite of all, a snapshot from the other day:

From where I sit in the den, I hear some kind of cheerful Bean shout. She is in the living room, and I realize, frightfully unsupervised. There is a gleeful squealing and then a distinct plink of something hitting the hardwood floor. I get up to investigate.

And this is what I see, her bare feet planted wide, her back to me. Her elbow cocks back and arm winds up to fling something across the room, hard. It hits the floor and shatters into several pieces. In her other non-throwing hand: the small cup I keep for her crayons. I stand there in silence for a moment, unable to stop her as she reaches into the cup for another unsuspecting Crayola missile.

Wind up and... throw.

And now the floor is littered with the things, most of them just newly bought, now just little nubs of color barely an inch long.

I am furious.

And I still am, though I have since caught her doing this two other times, the pieces shrinking into non-existence.

I understand the greedy-eyed thirst for destruction. Who among us hasn't tossed something across a room in a fit of rage? Or maybe you've done worse (and better)--- watched a glass shatter at your feet (on purpose); smashed something with a powerful throw (so good); or ripped something to bits just because you could (and so you did).

It's this need for the dismantling of things that makes us such complex and beautiful creatures. We aren't satisfied to have something whole and unfettered. We are terrible in our bent to break things apart, to know how something works, to see inside.

These days I focus so much on keeping things together. I hold the vase tighter to my chest to avoid even the smallest splinter--- I wonder if in trying to avoid the breakage I only cause a deeper fissure, way down in my center.

I've been fighting Bean's new call for demolition. We've done time outs and clean ups and taken privileges away. None of it is making much sense to her. She wants to feel her power, know she can unmake something that was once whole. And after a little self examination I'm wondering if I need to change my tactic, join her in the revelry. And then show her that some things can't be remade, only changed.

--And here's where you come in: what's your tactic for facing a child bent on destruction? Beat 'em (FIGURATIVELY) or join 'em?--


Anonymous said...

Removal and distraction, but that only works temporarily. Otherwise, just ride out the phase with a plastered on grin.

Rose said...

Well, you can let her know that breaking crayons is an unacceptable thing to do.

That being said, you can provide good opportunities for destruction. Blocks are excellent for that. I could entertain my kids for hours by building a large tower... only to have them knock it down, and me saying "Oh no!"

Building blocks, Legos... other sorts of trinkets to build with... all of them can be constructed and demolished... I bet those would be good for her!

Amanda said...

My immediate thought was to give her something to break. I just didn't come up with anything fantastic that would make her feel as though she were a super power of destruction. Sand castle stomping?

Tamara said...

I am hoping it's only a phase...we also have "The Destructor" at our house. For now I am holding on for the ride, but still letting my child know what is not OK. I'm learning destruction mode clicks on when he gets bored with what he's doing so I now know when it's time to find something new to do.
As a parent I have come to realize children are very curious and are on the road to discovery. Every action has a re-action and they want to find out what happens if... Our job is to lead, guide and walk beside them along the way.

Bethsix said...

Beat 'em. Literally.

No, I don't know. I think it depends a lot on the kid. We could tell Kieran one time not to do something, and he'd never do it again. Anneke has broken her finger and almost smashed out all her teeth doing the same thing over and over and over and over again. And she still does it. Even personal danger, nope, no reaction.

emily said...

i too pray it's only a phase ... but in the meantime ... don't set her up for failure. remove/lock up/hide things that you really don't want broken ... and the rest, help her understand that things that are broken go in the garbage and are gone. it was a hard lesson for my boys that destroyed things that once they are broken they can't be fixed and go in the trash ... something that CAN be fixed ... they got to help fix them ... not always fun but a learning experience nonetheless. good luck and hang in there!! the scriptures say 'and it came to pass' not 'it came to stay ...' this too shall pass ;o)

kately said...

Shelby the Destructor is in the same phase and I have had success with the "remove them from the scene and distract" Usually she is throwing out of frustration so I show her she can pound on the couch or the floor if she wants to get out negative energy. And on a similar note, when Shelby starts SHRIEKING because she wants to get out frustration, I start "silly shrieking" back at her which (fortunately) makes her laugh and she stops making the hideous sound. I'm fairly confident these are all stages -- not that I have any prior experience -- but still - we have to believe! oh, and Shelby "helped" me the other day by taking a permanent marker and drawing all over the month of May on the calendar (thank goodness she wasn't "helping" me color the white couch!" Made me realize I DO need to simply remove things from her reach. She is adept at moving our barstools and kitchen chairs to ANYWHERE IN THE HOUSE that she wants to - she pushes them you see -- so she can reach things higher up. O - M - G. Constant Supervision is the name of the game. :-)