I am a tidy person, deep in my heart of hearts. I crave order. Little delights me more than looking for an item where it belongs, and finding it there. A place for every item and every item in its place. And while we’re on the topic, let’s just say that the fewer items, the better.
It is at this point that anyone who’s ever visited my house or, say, someone who LIVES IN MY HOUSE will start to laugh hysterically. Because the state of my house… ahhhh… how shall we put it… well, the state of my house doesn’t exactly reflect my heart of hearts right now. Or ever. Details.
And so this weekend I attacked the various problem areas with a fervor born of months of denial and repression. One day, it’s all fine. The next day, I CANNOT STAND IT ANYMORE AND IT MUST ALL BE STOPPED IMMEDIATELY.
Look, it was VERY HARD for me to agree to let the children keep their rooms however they like, and I am mostly coping with that by not going in their rooms, or only going in at nighttime when it’s dark and I can administer hugs and kisses and sleepytime wishes without having to actually SEE the carnage. But every year before school starts I have to do the Closet Cleanout.
This year, Closet Cleanout was delayed because everything has been all messed up the last few weeks. But this weekend I realized that they children had started school and I had NOT done the Closet Cleanout and then it became clear that this had caused a rift in the space-time continuum that I needed to deal with RIGHT AWAY.
(Yeah. Um. I’m aware that this might not be normal. Thanks for noticing, though.)
Closet Cleanout is something I never remember doing as a kid, or my mother doing when I was a kid, and I don’t know if that’s because we never did it as an organized process or because I’ve blocked it out because of how badly it sucks. No idea. But the basic gist is that once a year I go through the kids’ closets and dressers and do a thorough sorting.
During the other 364 days of the year, each kid has a big bin in the bottom of their closet into which we can toss items that suddenly no longer fit. That’s useful, but for an anal-retentive like me it’s hardly the whole story. AU CONTRAIRE, my little pumpkins!
Closet Cleanout goes thusly:
1) I pull out the (now overflowing) bin of discarded items. I sort the contents into two piles; one for donation, and one for consignment.
2) We then turn to the dresser and go through each drawer, one at a time. Child is made to try on suspect items. Too-small and worn-out items are removed and placed in one of the two piles. The remaining items are folded and put away.
2a) Whichever child I’m working with screams and cries over at least two items which are either three sizes too small and/or damaged to the point of being unsuitable for public wearing, insisting that THAT FITS! or BUT I LOVE THAT! or IT’S NOT TOO STAINED, IT’S FINE!
2b) The child with whom I am NOT currently working comes into the room with some sort of tragedy requiring my immediate attention, causing the target child to scream and cry because he/she is trying on clothing and GET OUT GET OUT I’M NAKED! (Note: Child does not actually need to be naked for this to happen. It’s most fun when said child is fully clothed and then indignant because he/she COULD’VE BEEN naked.)
3) Once the dresser is done, we turn to shoes in the closet. Slippers are a particularly hot commodity, even in the middle of summer. It does not matter that they’re too small. It does not matter that I generously offer to buy a new pair, in the proper size. These slippers are the most wondrous slippers ever to have been invented and they love them so much that they are going to wear them RIGHT NOW and I am not allowed to take them.
3a) Some shoes go in a third pile—to throw away. I don’t think underprivileged people should be made to suffer my offspring’s foot funk. (This is the point at which I realize I didn’t go through socks and underwear, and do that and add cast-offs to the throw-away pile.)
4) Now for the closet bar! By this time, crushing fatigue has set in, and the child being forced to try things on is generally laying prostrate on the bed, whining that he/she cannot possibly do any more. The good news is that it’s mostly church clothes and outerwear on the bar, and not much needs to be tried on. Thank goodness.
5) At this point it’s time to move on to the closet shelves, which house the various NEW clothing which I have picked up on clearance throughout the year, a size or two ahead. If the collapsing-with-fatigue child is FEMALE, the subsequent trying-on inspires a dramatic recovery, because new clothes are the most exciting thing in the world. If the collapsing-with-fatigue child is MALE, the subsequent trying-on inspires antics such as a single ankle waved in the direction of some jeans and a pronouncement “Yeah, they’re fine. Are we done now?”
5a) The new clothes that fit are put in their proper places, while the still-too-big ones are put back on the shelves. If the target child is FEMALE every new piece of clothing will have been worn within the next six hours. If the target child is MALE those new clothes will not be worn until the drawer is empty of everything else and he has no other choice.
6) The sorted piles are gathered up and bagged and taken downstairs, where they will languish for weeks until it drives me insane enough that I will go drop them off where they belong.
7) Hey! That was only one kid! Repeat steps 1-6 with the other one, now!
Closet Cleanout can be significantly enhanced (and by “enhanced” I mean “made to suck even harder”) if you discover that one of your charming children has removed the shoelaces from every. pair. of. shoes. in the closet. Too-small shoes? Laceless. Current shoes? Laceless. Coming-up-on-fitting shoes? You got it, baby—LACELESS. Those laces were removed for “projects” and have since “disappeared.” Feel free to task the children with a recovery mission, and when they come up empty, send them to sit on the couch while the parents do reconnaissance. This will result in finding a single pair of laces during a half-hour clean-out of said room which ends with removing two giant trash bags full of garbage. And the organization of the remaining items because OH MY GOD the disarray is making my eyelid twitch.
Said child—who you are sure must be smarting over the forced room makeover—will then reenter the room and say, “Wow, this is GREAT! Everything is where it belongs, now! THANKS!”
(I find that smacking one’s head on the wall is an appropriate follow-up activity.)
So now the children’s rooms are cleaned out and everything is tidy and I was feeling really good until I came back into my office and realized that the stacks on my desk have reached critical mass. But, um, I spent all day yesterday cleaning and so I’m not even dealing with it right now.
Oh, shut up.