At a recent family event, I observed as my just-turned-3 year old came inside with his cup, to where I was standing with a few family members next to the food/drink table. He is non-verbal and he was indicating he wanted ice in his drink – while he was expressing this wish, he accidentally spilt some of his drink on the carpet. Two family members rushed in to scold him and clean up, while I watched.
“Go outside with your drink!”
As we turned back to talk, a women spilt her drink down her top and onto the carpet accidentally. Of course, she was scolded too.
“Sit down with that!”
Oh no, that’s right! She is an adult, she wasn’t told off at all! In fact, those in the room laughed and giggled about her having too much to drink and being tipsy, “we cant take you anywhere hehe” and everyone rushed to help her mop the liquid.
I was the only one who saw the irony of this. I was amused and upset at the double standard. My baby spilt his drink accidentally, and this other woman spilt her drink accidentally. Accidents happen. We mop it up, and carry on – no harm. But the response to the child was crushing, and full of childism, and very starkly different to that of the adult.
When my children spill a drink in our home, I respond with either, “oh dear, you spilt your drink. Can you please clean it up?” – because I am busy and/or frustrated at the time. Or I say, “I’m sorry you spilt your drink, honey. Lets clean it up and I’ll get you some more.” – if I’m feeling happier. If they have been silly and I had asked them to settle and then they spilt their drink, I raise my eyebrows – they know what they have done, they do not need to be scolded!
The thing is that my 3 year old is a helpful darling – given a chance, he will always find something to clean up mess. He has spilt his drink many a time and will find a tea towel to mop it up, without even being asked. And if anyone else spills, he’s quick to find the towel too. I think that’s pretty cool 🙂