We’re a busy family, and so like most busy families, we like to use the weekends to reconnect with each other in light of our busy lives. This is generally accomplished via sleeping late and eating pancakes. (Ahhhh—nothing says unity like carbs, am I right?) And then every now and then we try to do something special together.
Saturday was VERY special. I was so far behind on my work, I kicked the entire family out of the house and told them not to come back until I was done.
Ha! I’m just kidding. I would never do that. I mean, how could they possibly know when I’m done, when even I have no long it will take? No, I kicked them out of the house so that they could have a nice day of bonding. That happened to include four+ hours of driving to retrieve Otto’s broken car. And I totally wish I was kidding about that part.
Remember Otto and the Great Car Search? That was almost two months ago. The car came home and parts were ordered and Otto fixed it all up. Except. It still had a problem. A potential Big Problem. One that the guy who sold him the car said he’d be happy to take care of for him. Just as SOON as he could get to it.
It took him a while to get to it. Also, he lives two hours away. And this is why it’s a GREAT IDEA to buy a car so far away from home. Ahem. Anyway, the car was finally ALL FIXED and Otto and the kids went to go get it on Saturday. And I stayed home in my bathrobe and worked.
So they were feeling well-bonded, I’m sure, after their adventure, and I was feeling significantly less twitchy, having gotten some stuff done, and so Saturday night was a delightful affair involving Chinese food and DVDs. We know how to par-tay.
On Sunday—wait. Did I mention that it has rained here for a week straight? Because it has. And that’s great, because of the drought and everything, and also because my garden has gone NUTS; the tomato plants have already doubled in size, and Monkey’s cabbage is unfurling at an alarming rate. It’s WONDERFUL. Except for the part where no one has been outside to play in a week, and there are only so many movies you can watch before the urge to just poke your sibling a little bit becomes overwhelming, apparently. Anyway, this is by way of explanation as to why on Sunday we decided to dangle the carrot of a movie at the theater in front of the children.
They took the bait, and the parameters were set: If we were able to clean out their closets and dressers before it was time to go, we would go. If not, they would both be set on fire and hurled off the nearest suspension bridge. (I like to think I’m a harsh but fair taskmistress.) Successful completion of the task before us would mean an afternoon viewing of Race to Witch Mountain.
I started in Chickadee’s room, which may have been a mistake.
Chickadee’s dresser was positively overflowing. In a former life, I’m pretty sure Chickadee was a mother to ten or twelve children. I can think of no other explanation for her insistence on saving every piece of clothing she’s ever owned. And as much as it pains her when I sweep into her room and start emptying her dresser drawer by drawer, there comes a time when even she has to admit that those size 7 bathing suits really aren’t doing anyone any good in here.
Every year I do this. And every year I find something that hasn’t fit her for several years. I think clothing spontaneously generates in her room.
We’re having a fun new dimension added, these days, as well. I’ve always purchased clothing ahead for both kids—I pick up stuff on clearance and then put it up on the shelves in the closet or whatever—and I’ve always found this a very handy wato operate. HOWEVER, as puberty’s changes to both her body and attitude creep up, I’m finding that this no longer works as well as it used to. To wit: Shirts can no longer be baggy. Unless they are MEANT to be baggy, of course, in which case it’s fine. But otherwise, no. (No, I didn’t drink at all during this process. But I probably should’ve.) And Chickadee is a skinny little thing, so GUESS HOW MANY BAGGY SHIRTS we found while cleaning? Right.
(Also, here in Georgia she’s become a big fan of things which are sleeveless. Which is fine. But where I might’ve once told her to get over the whole BAGGY issue with her beloved tank tops and such, she’s old enough now that, yeah, those beautiful dresses I bought on clearance are gapping at the armpits and it’s inappropriate, fine, they will NEVER FIT, please give me a moment to pull myself together and not think about how much money I wasted assuming you might someday be larger than a twig.)
Pants are also a tricky issue, as even the slims are sometimes too wide, and even the pants that mostly fit may gap a bit in the waist, which is a TRAGEDY, even if you happen to own… wait, let me finish pulling everything out… right, okay, EVEN IF YOU OWN TWELVE BELTS. I have never owned twelve belts, not over the course of my entire LIFE. But my daughter does, and that’s AWESOME because any pair of pants which requires the use of a belt is a pair of pants she will surely refuse to wear.
Also, it’s a major tragedy that I won’t allow her to keep the three-sizes-too-small shoes she wore when Otto and I got married, you know, as a MEMENTO, because the dress, purse, dried flowers, hair baubles, and necklace Otto gave her ARE NOT ENOUGH MEMORABILIA. Those shoes were the MOST SPECIAL and WONDERFUL and she LOOOOOVES them. And I am a horrible ogre, not recognizing their inherent value, even though they came from Payless and I’m pretty sure I let her wear them out biking several times and they’re stinky, falling apart, and covered with grass stains.
but even aside from ALL OF THAT, we were doing okay (really!) until we got to her closet. Because the closet had been turned into Ye Olde Crap Repository. And once we’d finished sorting clothes and trying on and making “sell” and “donate” piles, I left Chickadee to clean out all of the non-clothing items she’d thrown in her closet.
She set to work and I moved on to Monkey’s room. He was very eager to help me out, though he didn’t have much of an explanation about why the floor of HIS closet was covered with various papers. I sent him downstairs for a trash bag and he began sorting through papers as I worked through his clothes.
Things in his room were much less dramatic, unless you want to count the fact that I decided to get rid of several pairs of his shorts simply because they were size 5T. They still fit him, but I just couldn’t take it anymore. He’s NINE. The poor child should not have toddler-size clothing in his dresser.
At one point he’d thrown away an entire stack of papers (yay!) and hefted the garbage bag up on his shoulder as though it weighed a ton, even though it wasn’t even a quarter full. “Well, this is pretty much packed,” he declared. “I’ll just take it downstairs to trash can!” Nice try, dude. We had a little chat about “finishing the job we’ve started” and “not wasting trash bags” and “don’t make me start yelling about wire hangers.”
His clothing was sorted, refolded, and put away. My triumph for the day was finding a pair of sandals I’d bought him three years ago, sure they’d fit the following summer. He’s finally big enough to wear them. (Allow me to introduce you to my son… Tom Thumb!)
I left him cleaning out some of his “treasure bins,” and went back to check on Chickadee.
Her closet had exploded. At least, that’s what it looked like. And when my head threatened to follow suit, she hastily escorted me out of her room, assuring me that she had just taken everything out so that she could get organized, and it was fine, ALL FINE, she’d be done soon.
At the designated time I checked both rooms—and they were clean—and we went to the movies. Race to Witch Mountain is a fabulous remake of the movie I loved as a kid, only this version is EVEN BETTER because it stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s biceps. And also his cheekbones. There’s also a couple of flashes of his abs. I’m pretty sure the plot revolves around exactly how tightly his t-shirt molds to his torso, but I may have missed a few other minor story lines.
Otto and I shared a bucket of popcorn and the kids shared a box of Raisinets. A grand time was had by all!
Later that night, we had a nice dinner, discussed the week to come, addressed a few issues from the previous week, and sent the kids to bed at a reasonable time.
I was bidding Monkey goodnight when I realized that the door to the extra closet in his room was ajar. I closed it. Then my mother’s intuition siren went off, and I opened it again.
Inside the closet was three bags, full of everything that had previously been strewn on the floor of Chickadee’s closet.
So now I have three more bags of stuff to donate to Goodwill. And several new gray hairs. (Look, I give her points for ingenuity, I do. But… no. And after freaking out about it, she pulled herself together and told me to take the movie ticket money out of her allowance, because she had not met the conditions to go. I thought that was pretty impressive. Not as impressive as if she would just DO WHAT SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO, but still.)
This morning I gave Chickadee a big hug and a kiss and she hugged me back and said, “You know, this unconditional love thing is pretty cool.” I tried not to laugh. Monkey observed this exchange and commented, “I’m never putting anything on the floor of my closet ever again. It just seems complicated.”
Yep. Just another regular weekend.