Sunday, January 10, 2010

Only partly domesticated

I just spent four hours, y’all, cleaning The Middle Twain’s room. (Yeah, I was going to cook today. Didn’t get the all the shopping for it done, realized I had a better chance of being elected Empress of San Francisco than getting both the rest of the shopping and the cooking done, moved on to cleaning instead.) (Besides, next weekend is a three-day for us. MegaBank is taking the Monday off. Usually I hate that, because for me it’s an unpaid day off…but I don’t think I’ll be complaining much this time.)

Anyway, back to the room…daaaaaaaaaang.

SEE, the thing is, cleaning their rooms is actually a Denizen chore. They are expected to keep their debris picked up, the markers off the wall, the dust to a reasonable level, blah blah blah.

And they…well, they sorta…well. Mostly what they do is cram everything into the nearest drawer or bin and call it a day.

Occasionally we go in there and pitch a fit and they make a brief effort to actually clean. The dust flies, a broom is applied, the toys are neatly put away where they belong crammed into the nearest available space and then they proudly yell “DONE!” and get on with their little lives.

But there comes a time – oh yes, there comes a time – when the (alleged) adult(s) need to take a firm hand.

I find this time generally comes when something truly horrible is discovered, like it was this morning when I walked into their room and started squawking about the mess and the trash and the ohmyGAH, is that BIRD SEED?! and the dust and the cat hair and the boogers on the wall and the…wait…is that…mold…?

This was followed by me uttered the most dreaded words heard around here: Go downstairs, get me a BIG trash bag, a Magic Eraser, and my Cleaning Kit…then get OUT.

The kids usually hate it when I clean their room for them, because generally when I’m doing it, it’s because I’ve warned them the requisite three (3) times that if they do not get in there and make a good effort at it, I’m going to do it my way – which involves a shovel, a large trash bag, and Goodwill.

That’s right. I’m that kind of Evil Overlord. If I’ve told you three times to get your crap off the floor, if I’ve given you the fair warning that you’ve got X minutes and if it ain’t done, I’m-a-gonna-do-it-fer-ya…your stuff is gone.

Because obviously, you don’t actually care about it, right? You had (usually) more than an hour to protect the things you wanted to keep – you didn’t bother to do it.

I’m not sure what bothers me more, that they don’t do it, or that they really don’t care when their stuff gets jettisoned. I’d’ve cried for days if my mother had done the kind of purging I do somewhat regularly with these kids.

So when I issued forth the “Bring forth the Royal Cleaning Implements!” commands…the Twain were bothered. They hadn’t been warned! They hadn’t had a chance (which is not true because arguably they are supposed to keep their room neat and tidy at all times)! And! Their room looked like a bomb had gone off in it, with papers and dolls and doll clothes and new Christmas presents and their clothes and hats and who-knew what-all else…and they know how their mother operates.

It’s like I have a sort of seizure and I start tossing things and…well. It’s rarely a happy thing. (I do tend to spare the Really Special Dolls and Blankies, but everything else, no matter how expensive it was, is subject to at least a lengthy time out in the garage, followed by being put not back into their rooms, but into the Mommy Store. You want it back? Fine. Save up your hard-earned Den Dollars and buy it back. And maybe next time you’ll take better care of it blah blah blah something about responsibility whatever and by the way what’s for dinner because we’re staaaaaaaarving….) (It is a bit depressing sometimes, knowing that as I stand around flapping my gums providing Life Lessons for my offspring, what they’re doing is just waiting for me to shut up so they can ask about food.)

But today, my primary focus wasn’t on punishing them for bad tidying habits – it was the mold on their windowsill. It happens every winter, yet every winter it shocks me when this white stuff starts splotching all over the sills. Ew.

Of course, this also means (to me) that the whole room probably could use a really thorough cleaning. In order to do that, it needs a really thorough tidying.

And if I want that done before the mold is walking, talking and asking me for snacks – I’d better just do it myself.

So I got started, and quickly realized that the way things were organized in general was part of the problem. The wrong things were in the wrong places – stuff they used all the time in hard to reach places (hence they would work at it to get them down, but not bother putting them away again) and so forth.

Sooooooooooooooo…I hauled everything out of where it was, did a quick belongs / doesn’t belong / trash / treasure sort, then had sets of completely empty shelves and bins and closets to start over.

Four. Hours. Later…

It’s a very clean room. Everything from the door frames to the floorboards have been not merely dusted, but sanitized. (No. More. Mold. Thank. You.) Furniture has been rearranged. Big desk = gone. Cute small table hand-painted by their extremely talent Auntie = repurposed into there. Corkboard planned. Shoe cubby planned. New organization scheme discussed. Hugs from grateful offspring received. Giggling overheard. Dancing ongoing. (There’s room in there now, you see.)

…back throbbing…irritable attitude setting in…knowledge that I’ve just totally shoveled a walkway in the middle of a massive blizzard refusing to go away…

…temptation to throw myself on the couch in front of the Wii with a beer for the rest of my sorry life getting stronger…

Domestication, I think, is really only skin-deep for me. I’m not exactly Martha Stewart, you know? (I’m not exactly even in the same species as Martha. In point of fact, I think Martha Stewart might actually have a heart attack and die if she ever saw this place. Between our [ahem] eclectic décor and our haphazard cleaning and let us not even mention how seasons come and go around here without much more than an ‘oh look, I think it’s Easter!’, we are probably what she sees in her mind whenever she ponders what hell must look like.)

But at least I can say this: Mold is not permitted to grow on anything in the Den at will.

That’s right. The minute I get around to noticing it, it is gone, baby!

…all sixteen windowsills worth…


Janet McKinney said...

Ohhh yes I agree with the "clean it yourself or I will clean it" plan. My rules were if you do the cleaning, you decide what stays and what goes. I always reckoned it worked... but dd (now 25) reckons it never worked, and she never cleaned up anyhow. Well there is one thing, it didn't scar her for life did it!

Alexandra said...

Six. Teen. Windowsills... You deserve an award.

Science PhD Mom said...

LOL! Quit spying on my house, would ya? Because, d@mn, woman, it's like you have eyes in my walls!! That or we are both dealing with the same cluttered, sometimes moldy (but not when we notice it, nosirree, then it's EVICTED forewith!) and perpetually disorganized house. Only my denizens are about seven years younger than your eldest, so they make a HUGE mess! What, don't they outgrow that?? Please don't do it, let me cling to my illusion of improvement with age!