After my morning hour-long walk, I fixed lunch for my third-grader and welcomed the five-year old from down the street. Then my boys left with their dad for P.E. at the local YMCA. I savor the time they are gone, not just because they are 14 and tend to forget to put on their deodorant, but because we spend so much time together that I need the occasional break from their judgment and back-talk. Okay, that and I like to clean their room while they are gone.
Now, the more responsible mothers among us wouldn’t dream of cleaning their teenagers’ room, but I figure that my baseline standard of cleanliness is beyond my boys’ comprehension and so, if I want it cleaned to my standards (which aren’t really that high, but still), I should clean. So I do when I can’t stand it anymore.
Also, that room is not just their bedroom, but also a sort of rec room in which all the neighborhood kids and all my kids spend an inordinate amount of time. In fact, a large part of the distressing mess in there was mine because the (old, used) piano bench fell apart and I removed all its guts (sheet music, old music books and newer piano lesson books) and left them in disarray on the adjacent filing cabinet. For months. Even after I repaired the bench, the stuff sat. A few other things piled atop the music books and then someone left a shirt (post-sleepover) here which I put on the top of the piano. Then, for whatever reason, an extension cord found its way to rest on top of the shirt, along with two screwdrivers and a thingamajig that you use with caulk.
Cover the whole thing with dust, bake thirty minutes at 350 degrees.
No, wait. You must not bake clutter. You must put it all back where it belongs and throw away what you can. Which I did. Then I dusted and vacuumed, but not before I moved the couch and unearthed some stray Legos, a spoon, a plate, three dirty socks and a million string cheese wrappers and a pile of Goldfish crackers.
Yes, that was pleasant.
I hooked up a gigantic speaker to the boys’ computer, threading the cords behind the big desk. I put away their clothes. And now, at least for today, when I walk into that room I am not tempted to hurl myself to the ground in revulsion.