The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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It’s In The Closet!

on August 20, 2012

We experienced a miracle at our house this past week.  Well maybe not a miracle in the traditional definition of miracles. Maybe it was more like a shocking event. Or a once in a lifetime happening.  That’s probably more accurate.  What was this phenomenon? Our 14-year-old thoroughly cleaned her room AND closet.  I know that sounds like a common every day occurrence for most people.  It may even be a required weekly happening at your home.  I tried to make it a required weekly happening at our home for many years and then I gave up. Well I kind of gave up. What I did was come to the conclusion that beating my head against the wall was less painful so I let  up. I relaxed.  Life is too short to spend all of my waking time nagging my children.  I have cut back to part-time nagging. It’s worked out pretty well for all of us but it led to the closet disaster in our younger daughter’s room.

Our children’s rooms are all upstairs and there is nothing else up there.  No reason to go upstairs unless you are going to one of their rooms.  Because of this, I have to CHOOSE to look at their rooms.  I decided to quit choosing.  The general rules around here are pretty easy: 1 – no fire hazards. This means no candles, extension chords that haven’t been approved by electrical dad or anything else flammable upstairs. 2. – You must be able to get OUT of your room in case of a fire. 3. – My stuff does not go upstairs.  My stuff is defined as towels, dishes or – by penalty of death – my tweezers or fingernail clippers. 4. –  If I start smelling a foul odor from that level of the house and have to come investigate you will not be happy with the results of my investigation. I will throw out anything that looks like trash.  Lots of things look like trash to me. 5. – The “family areas” of the home are not storage places for your misplaced items.  If it is still downstairs when you retire for the evening then it belongs to ME. You will pay by cash or chore to recover it. 6. – We do not replace items ruined because you did not take care of them. You break it – you replace it. 7. – I cannot do laundry that I do not see. If you want it washed get it down to the hamper on laundry day.  Otherwise I taught you how to use the washing machine. 8 – Once a month you WILL clean your room and I WILL come look after you are done.  See? Simple.  I’m pretty easy to get along with, no?  My conclusion is that their rooms are their space and they have to learn, somehow, to take care of things without my following them around. Besides I don’t have to look at the mess. It’s a win/win.  Unless you looked in our 14-year-old’s closet.

Our younger daughter, bless her heart, has always been “tidy-room-challenged.” When she was little I would go up to her room at “clothes change” season twice a year.  On those days not only would we switch her clothes I would meticulously help her clean and re-organize her room.  So that she could mess it all up over the next 6 months. It wasn’t that she meant to.  It’s that she simply got overwhelmed by her stuff all the time.  She didn’t know what to do with it so she would shove it in the closet.  I’d tell her to clean her room so she’d shove everything in the closet.  She’d hear me coming up the stairs and she’d shove stuff in the closet.  She’d “borrow” things from her siblings and then hide them in the closet so they wouldn’t know she had them.  She’s get tired of toys so she’d put them in the closet. She’d put clothes on decide they didn’t fit so she’d – say it with me – shove them in the closet.  Have I mentioned that her closet isn’t really that big?  So every six months I’d get frustrated, she’d cry, we’d shovel out the closet and start the cycle all over again.  Then she got older and didn’t need my help switching clothes for the season.  Use your imagination. The closet quit getting shoveled twice a year. Or ever.  Her closet became notorious.   If she couldn’t find something the response was automatically, “It’s probably in your closet.”  Something disappear in the house? “It’s got to be in Lyndsie’s closet!”  Missing persons report in the newspaper? “Did anyone check Lyndsie’s closet?”  You get the drift.

This past week my little closet stuffing pack rat decided she could no longer stand it.  Either that or she figured out that neither her organized mother and older sister were going to bail her out any longer.  She declared that she was going to clean her room AND her closet before school started last week.  I must admit I was skeptical.  Until I came home from work to find her hauling down bags of trash. Old backpacks. Lost school supplies.  Long forgotten Polly Pockets. Her old tea set.   Stuffed animals that were no longer being hugged.  Clothes.  Lots of clothes. Suddenly I was a little sad.  I kind of felt like her childhood was being carted out in bags. Lots of bags.  Some to throw out and some to donate.  A few to give to friend’s little girls.  It’s the end of an era.  When I asked her why she suddenly decided to part with all her old things she looked at me seriously and said, “We’re moving next year.  You keep saying if we don’t use it we aren’t moving it.  I figured I’d get a head start.”  It’s one of those moments you realize your kids really are listening even though it doesn’t seem like it.  She got it.  She’s ready to move on.  I only cried for a minute or two.  My baby girl is growing up.

Arriving home later that night she informed her older sister that her closet was finally cleaned and organized.  “You’re kidding.” daughter #1 said. “Hey! Did you find the Chilean miners in there??”  “Yes.” Daughter #2 replied, “They were right under all that underwear I outgrew.”

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8 responses to “It’s In The Closet!

  1. momshieb says:

    I once found half a pizza and a rubber mallet (missing for six months from our garage) under my teen aged daughter’s bed.
    sigh.

  2. It really sounds like a miracle to me! I guess if you set a good enough example they will soon follow suit! That really gives me hope!!! I especially love that she remembered your comment about moving and that you didn’t think she heard you….it gives all of us moms hope!!!!

    • wedelmom says:

      It is truly amazing when it “clicks” and suddenly they “get it.” Makes all those times you’ve repeated yourself worth it. Mostly anyway. Never give up hope – it’s all we moms can cling to some days! 🙂

  3. Very good! I think your rules are wise and practical. Our kids have to figure out what matters to them…and it sounds like progress! One issue at our house, with the youngest of our 4 boys, is that everything gets passed down to him, but there is no one for him to pass it on to other than giving it away. Passing it to a brother is easier than getting it out the door. How does that work in your house?

    • wedelmom says:

      Ah yes “Dump this on my younger siblings” syndrome. Happens in our house too. I’ve tried to teach our younger two that they do not have to take an item from their older siblings unless they really want it. Once our younger daughter and/or son have outgrown something I try to think of someone we know whose children would enjoy it or could use it and pass it down to them. Otherwise we donate it and hope the exact person who “needs” it will find it.

  4. I think a congratulations is in order! It feels good when they finally do something you want them to do. Yes!

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