Today was a giant work day for all of us; the kids and I dug out their rooms and their closets, while Otto did manly things like replace a faucet and put holes in the walls where we’ve had things just propped against the wall “to be hung” for months on end. Monkey made up a little “Spring cleaning in the FAAAAAALLLLLL!” song that he kept singing at me to make me laugh, and Chickadee did a lot of complaining about how it wasn’t her fault her room was a mess and she didn’t realize that I meant the WHOLE closet and such, and the end result was lots of stuff got done and rooms ended up clean and it was a small comfort to me to have a few things set in order after a few days of what felt like utter chaos.
“I don’t know about you, buddy,” I said to Monkey as he set the last of his bins back on the shelves with a satisfied look on his face, “but sometimes once I get everything all organized, I actually feel better. Like life is more manageable.”
He nodded in agreement. “Me too!” he said. “I like knowing where to find everything.”
I was kind of surprised to hear him agree with me. For someone who likes knowing where to find everything, I guess he doesn’t mind his definitions very broad. Because before this morning? I can tell you where you could’ve found everything. IN HIS ROOM. Everything! It was all in there! Under his bed, in his closet, on the floor, stuffed in the crevices of the shelves… need I go on? I don’t think I do. I mean, it was all there. Whether you could lay your hands on any particular item or not… well, let’s not split hairs. I’m sure if you really got a hankering for that one particular scrap of paper or that pencil sharpened down to a nub, you would’ve come across it eventually. Probably.
Chickadee, on the other hand, claims to be unbothered by the mounds of detritus surrounding her, and will never, ever admit to being pleased once items have been sorted and organized. Then again, she went to a sleepover last night which meant that today she was sleep-deprived and delightful. Like, I found a pair of doll socks in Monkey’s room and brought them to her, and that was the most horrible and awful thing I could’ve possibly done. Because I was giving her more stuff to put away! WHY AM I SO MEAN??
I just backed away slowly. It seemed the most prudent course of action.
At some point in the afternoon I walked past Monkey’s room and saw that he had his bin of little Pokemon figures dumped out and scattered to the four corners, and even as my eyelid began to twitch I asked in a light and conversational tone if perhaps he would remember to put them away again when he was done. He assured me that he would, but added that he was just SO EXCITED to have found them all, he wanted to play with them for a while. That made sense—80% of his collection had been buried so deep in the mess he probably hadn’t seen them in months, if not over a year.
After dinner the kids got ready for bed, and I peeked into Monkey’s room, fearing the worst.
His floor was clear save for the book he’d been reading, so as I knelt to pick it up I began congratulating him on remembering to put his toys away, because we’d just been talking about how great it is to know where things are, and—
I was now eye-level with his shelves, and could see that the bin for the little plastic guys was empty. Monkey came closer to take the book from me, and as I started to ask him what in the world he’d done with his Pokemon, my eyes came to rest on a stack of his comic books on the shelf below the bin.
The comic books were covered with Pokemon figures. And some of the figures had fallen off to the sides, of course, but there they all were, tossed all over the shelves, FOUR INCHES BELOW the container that some hours earlier he had insisted was where he’d like to keep them.
I understand laziness. I’m pretty good at lazy, myself. But it’s a special brand of lazy when four inches is too far to go.
“I thought you said you liked knowing where things are?” I asked him, groping to understand. “The bin is right there. RIGHT THERE. Why would you just toss everything here, instead? Right after you’d spent most of the day FINDING all of these guys? WHY?”
“I don’t know,” he said. And he really doesn’t know.
Together we picked them all up and put them in the bin, and I reminded him that this was how his room got so messy in the first place, you know, and he said he knew; and I realized that two months from now his room is going to look exactly the same as it did this morning, and I will come in with a garbage bag again and we’ll clean and sort and organize and he’ll sing and I’ll exhort him to keep it organized and he’ll agree and then he’ll throw stuff all over the shelves an hour later.
I suspect that realization may be contributing more to my exhaustion than the actual cleaning.