What should you do when your kid makes a mess?

My grandfather and his brother once ran into their kitchen and proudly presented a hand-picked bouquet to their mother. Though the details of the story changed from telling to re-telling, my great-grandmother's guilt over her angry response to seeing her plucked plantings did not. 

That scene stuck with my mother, so that, when decades later my twin siblings proudly presented their "gallery" of construction paper glued to our family room wall, she complimented them on their artistry. 

A few more decades down the road, my son dragged me to the kitchen, where he had just earlier dragged a stool to the stove and emptied a jar of herbs de provence onto the range. He beamed. "I'm planting seeds!" I gasped. Standing on a stool(!) at the yet-un-babyproofed stove(!) pouring pricey herbs into that impossible-to-clean wasteland between stove and counter(!)

Planting seeds.

Planting seeds.

I caught my horrified expression reflected in the microwave, but he didn't. He was too busy wondering why his seeds weren't growing yet. So I took a deep breath and talked to him about water and sunshine before reaching for the vacuum. 

I wish I'd had the presence of mind to save a little to plant in the backyard. Maybe next time.