There are three words, uttered in the pudgy voice of my nineteen-month-old stick-child that instantly summons fear and trembling into my heart. I can survive the tumbling sound as she bumps down a couple of stairs, but when she says, “Make a mess!” the life just about goes out of me as I stagger toward the sound of her voice with at least one eye squeezed shut.
It may merely mean that she has dumped the plastic bin of dinosaurs and sea-creatures all over the floor, or it could signify the emptying of a box of crackers onto the floor. Drawing on walls constitutes this exclamation, as well as upending the entire contents of the humidifier onto the bedroom floor where it will inevitably soak into the carpet and cause much mold and general rot. There is also a chance that all of my clean, nicely folded laundry has found its way onto the floor, and is now unfolded.
I believe that it is actually the force with which she shouts the word “mess” that stirs such dread into my bowels. Generally, said mess can be cleaned up without too much ado. Alas, simply knowing this to be true does not alleviate much (if any) anxiety of my part.
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