Sunday, September 25, 2011

Lending a Hand

I get a little crazy at the start of a new school year. Things that don't normally bother me suddenly become mountains that I must climb. Matt and Michael know to stay out of my way when I begin getting things put in their place the first weeks of school. It's almost like nesting when I was pregnant. I've been a busy girl since school began, writing lesson plans, grading papers, attending meetings, and such. Thus, my house has felt neglected.

Clothes and dishes get washed, dried, and placed in assorted piles to be put away. The piles of clean clothes have grown into a mountain the size of Mount Everest (I exaggerate) on my folding table. For some reason, I don't mind gathering up the dirty clothes, washing and drying them, but I'm not crazy about the folding and putting away part of the job. Same with the clean dishes sitting in my drying rack. Instead of putting them in the cupboard, we just use them right out of the rack. In this way I'm not my mother's daughter.

I don't want to even discuss the clutter in my living room: tools, floor tiles, chair rails, and baseboards stacked precariously on top of a box in the middle of the living room floor. The pile has been there since July. Piles of clothes sit on the chair in my bedroom. I think I've reverted back to my former high school self who had piles of clothes laying about her room in various conditions of cleanliness. The kitchen table is piled high with books and papers for school and my back porch is cluttered with football equipment.

To top things off, I feel sick. It always happens at the beginning of the year, sore throat, stuffy head, aches, and exhaustion. Eventually, I'll lose my voice for about a week or so. The last thing I wanted to do was help my son clean his disaster of a room.

Michael, now a sixth grader, has had ALL summer vacation to clean and organize his tiny, tiny bedroom. His bedroom only holds his bunk beds, toy box, lamp, lizards, bookshelf, and dresser. Each item tightly squeezed up against the four walls so he can have a small space to sit on his floor if he likes. Has he done anything to clean his room? NO. Can anyone walk around in his room? NO. Isabella and Sophie, my yorkie and chaweenie, are afraid to enter for fear they might get lost among the piles of clothes, toys, paper, ... I can't see the floor!

The other night I was catching up the laundry and the dishes. I went downstairs to retrieve the clean clothes from the dryer and carry them upstairs to fold them on my bed. I figured the clothes would stand a better chance of getting folded and put away if I wanted to sleep in my bed that night. Folding the clothes reminded me of my grandmother. She taught me to fold using my grandfather's handkerchiefs. We typically folded the laundry on her bed.

I folded shirts, shorts, socks (I HATE folding socks!), etc. I made piles according to where the items needed to go, my closet or dresser, Mike's closet or dresser, or Matt's closet or dresser. I collected Michael's folded shirts to place them in his dresser. Walking across the hall, I stood in Michael's doorway. After a full minute of pondering, I desperately tried to find a path to Michael's dresser which is stuffed into his closet.

I found the dresser under clothes that were dangling from their hangers. The drawers were opened wide revealing shirts, shorts, and pants stuffed every-which-way, but not the neat folded way in which I would have placed them.  (Insert scream here.) I called to Michael who was sitting on the couch watching TV. "Turn off the TV, get your butt off of the couch, and clean this pigsty of a room." Yes, I sounded just like my mother. I dragged the dresser from the closet and moved it between the lizards and toy box. I proceeded to remove the disheveled clothes and replace them with the neatly folded clothes.

My husband Matt came up the stairs from the basement to see what all the hubbub was about. He found me standing in the middle of Michael's room explaining to Michael that this was unacceptable. He needed to bite the bullet and clean his room. Matt agreed with me and said to Michael that he's had all summer to clean his room. He went on to say that if he picked it up every day he wouldn't have such a mess all at one time to clean up. I just stared in amazement as Matt said, "Clean as you go is the sign of a pro." I wish he lived by that motto, but I didn't say it aloud.

I left Michael and Matt standing among the debris of his room and went back to folding laundry in my room. That's when I saw Matt, out of the corner of my eye, begin to direct Michael to start with the main items that were in the middle of his floor. The two of them worked together as a team with no arguing or complaints while I continued with the laundry.

After about an hour I was finishing with the last of the clothes when Michael asked me to come and take a look at his room. Floor. I could actually see the floor. Even in the closet - floor. They told me not to look UNDER the bed just yet. They were saving that for Sunday when I would be out of town.

This is one of those moments I want to record in my memory and save for a rainy day. Thanks Matt. I needed that.

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