The dictionary defines the word “mischief” as “able or tending to cause annoyance, trouble, or minor injury” or “irresponsibly playful.” Both definitions are very accurate but I recently learned a new way to define mischief, only not in words.
The new definition of mischief in my life is a facial expression. It’s a very specific look that my son gets in his eyes when he’s about to do something he shouldn’t and he knows it. He will purposely watch me with that look on his face and very slowly begin to engage in the misbehaviour at hand.
Example: I’ve told my son repeatedly not to eat crayons or play-doh. He does it anyway, because he seems to know instinctively that while doing so is not exactly acceptable, it’s not exactly dangerous either. And the taste, texture and smell of crayons and play-doh are somewhat intriguing to the unsophisticated palette of a two-year-old. Plus he knows it annoys me and I usually react in a way that is satisfying and amusing to him.
So when the urge strikes him, he will take a piece of play-doh and without taking his eyes off me, will very slowly raise the offending object to his mouth with slight smirk and a twinkle in his eyes.
Now I know I’m biased but my son is cute. He has a pair of big blue eyes are just perfect for twinkling with mischief and when he’s up to no good, his smile is mirthful and contagious.
So it takes every bit of willpower that I have not to laugh at him when he starts to misbehave. Unless what he is doing is really pissing me off and then that look triggers a whole other set of emotions, namely rage so powerful it makes me scream and yell.
However, when the action is pretty benign, but as a parent you just know you have to be the enforcer and say “no” it takes a lot to hold back from laughing. And oddly, I get a certain sense of pride when I see him pushing the limits. For the life of me, I can’t understand why but something about seeing him behave mischievously makes me feel a little proud of him.
Recently, we were working in the backyard and my son was helping my husband out. In doing so, he discovered how to use the spray gun on the hose. It was a revelation to him. He couldn’t get enough! But when he was soaked and it was time to go inside for a bath, we turned off the hose and he started to cry “More waterrrrrrr!” When we said no, he just gave us a look and decided to figure it out on his own. He grabbed a nearby bucket, dragged it to the faucet, stepped on the bucket and proceeded to turn the hose back on. Satisfied with himself, he returned to the spray gun and resumed his activities.
I know that action only complicated things for me, but I couldn’t help but smile and feel just a bit proud of him for taking matters into his own hands and solving the problem on his own. So I let him spray for another two minutes and then hauled him kicking and screaming into the house. Fortunately, he couldn’t see my face, because I was grinning all the way to the bathtub.
Is he mischievous? Yes indeed. But I kinda like it.