For a while now, I have been giving Alex a small glass or lidless cup for his milk rather than a sippy cup or cup with a straw. At times, this has been infuriating as he will get toward the end of a glass, decide he's had enough, and dump the remains on the floor. In my best moods, I help him clean up with a paper towel. In my worst, I groan and order him to "watch out" while I clean up. I have definitely wondered on occasion if it was all worth the trouble.
Today, Alex once again demonstrated extreme interest in the fish in our backyard Koi pond. I remembered that we had some fish food inside and took him in to fill a little ramekin with pellets for the fish. I handed him the container and warned him to "be careful!" My cautions were unnecessary. Despite obstacles in the yard, he carried the container slowly and carefully all the way out to the pond and fed the fish. When I suggested he might want to also feed the ones near the bridge, he climbed down with the half-full dish and carried it over to the bridge. Not a single pellet spilled, and he was completely delighted with every aspect of the process.
I feel certain that if Alex lived with sippy cups and spill-proof dishes, he would never have exhibited the care he demonstrated today, nor would he have accomplished this task so successfully. Maybe all that spilled milk has actually been worth it.