Breaking the Cycle of Sloppiness
It wasn’t meant as an insult. It just came out that way. My daughter just finished cleaning her bedroom. Her menagerie of stuffed animals was now securely confined to one area. Her pile of favorite books neatly sat on the proper shelves rather than all over the floor. The freshly laundered clothes were off her desk and packed away in her dresser drawers.
I walked into her room and the unusual cleanliness took my breath away. That’s when I said:
“Oh, I didn’t know you had carpeting in here!”
We could finally see the carpet in her room. My daughter didn’t laugh. She took the room cleaning seriously, although not seriously enough to clean more often.
“Very funny!” she said sarcastically, as the scent of Lemon Pledge floated through the room, and as a stuffed bunny rabbit threatened to topple from the pile and onto the floor. I shattered her pride. Bad move for me.
This is an age-old battle, I just know it: kids and their parents arguing over messy rooms. I am sure that back in the time of the cave dwellers the cave mothers were yelling at their cave children:
“Why can’t you pick up your rocks and bones when I tell you to? And why are your loincloths always in a wrinkled pile in the corner just minutes after I just got done beating them against the river rocks? Just for that, you can’t help your father invent fire tonight!”
Messy rooms. I did it. You did it. We all did it. We all kept our rooms as clean as horse stalls on an abandoned farm.
My oldest son just got finished writing an important research paper for school. Before starting the project, he needed a lot of reference material, went to the local library and came home with a tall stack of books. The paper was finished weeks and weeks ago. The books are still on his floor, and on his desk, and on his bed. (I think he has carpeting too!)
If any of you are at our local library and discover that some history books have been checked out for a while and are overdue, then please contact me. The books are probably in my son’s room, somewhere between a malodorous gym bag and a mound of stinky basketball shoes.
Meantime, our youngest son has apparently developed an allergy: to clothes hangers. We are not doctors but can tell there’s an allergy because clothing never gets hung up in his closet. The floor works just fine. He also has an aversion to his dresser drawers, preferring to place piles of freshly and neatly folded laundry on his desk or under his bed. This makes my wife insane. Everyone knows that once you allow clean clothes to mix with dirty ones we all know that complete anarchy follows.
Of course, as I sit here typing and casting aspersions, a potential avalanche of papers sits unsteadily on my desk. If I type too hard on the keyboard then the papers will fall. One false move and a landslide will bury the mound of papers that covers the carpeting.
Obviously, there is a pattern here. This is generational. If I am to break the cycle of sloppiness it should start with me. But it’s easier to start with them rather than with me. The best that I can do might be to wait them out. Once they move away to college, I can start filling their rooms – and their floors – with my stuff.
Tim is the author of “From Wedgies to Feeding Frenzies: A Semi-Survival Guide for Parents of Teens.” To learn more about the book, or receive his monthly e-newsletter, email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto his website at www.timherrera.com