“Life is messy” well, so the ad says before the mum swoops in and wipes the grubby mess with whatever cleaning product it was being showcased, and they all lived happily ever after.
The mum in my house doesn’t work like that. In fact, every time she ( OK, I ) try to make a concerted effort to clean it’s like pushing grime from one spot to the next in a very pointless dirt displacement experiment. I’ve outsourced that.
So apparently the role modelling in this area hasn’t been spectacular. HOWEVER, I cannot even begin to conceive what I did to inspire the approach to mess making one of my children has the ability to execute.
Mess is not a new skill for said child, oh no. She has been rehearsing this art form from a very young age. A child prodigy if you will. In a recent dream the toy room from hell came back to haunt me. In this nightmare I was trying to salvage valuable and sentimental things from an overly cluttered toy room, things I could not find in the mess eventually giving up and racing out just in time for it to topple over into a burning chasm. You may think this dream says more about my own subconscious but no. Let me tell you that toy room was something to behold (and be afraid of, very afraid).
This child once told me that she could not possibly possess a tidy room as that would make her seem ‘up herself’ to friends who should drop by. The child followed by a rendition of what those friends would say upon finding her tidy room; “Well look at you and your clean room, la-de-dah, who do you think you are? the queen?” the child mocked of course with hands on hips.
And it’s a great thing that the child had read and been so inspired by the fable of Hansel and Gretel as she left a trusty trail of crap wherever she would go, just so she could back track should the evil witch (most likely me) jump out.
Eventually social media came along with all of its useful click bait. “messy people are creative” she told me one day after reading a story by some lazy keyboard wielding tosspot (sorry, online guru) she had now chosen as a sage adviser.
God help me if she ever stumbles across the story of the girl who raised funds to tidy her room after accidentally posting a pic of the tip that she calls home – RAT INCLUDED
Over our years together I have tried countless strategies to encourage this child to live a tidier life. Helping, setting boundaries, making rules, time out, taking things away, various storage devices, competitions, star charts, job lists, ignoring the mess, getting cranky, ignoring the mess, getting cranky, getting cranky.. Oh – I’ve been there, and then there’s just outright bribery. Nothing has worked over a long term.
Except on the days that she decides that actually a clean space might be a nice thing right now. And on those days she may just well clean the whole house with gusto only seen on the above mentioned commercials. I sit in disbelief as she purposefully makes every nook and cranny of whatever space she touches sparkle – on those days that is.
In the petri dish I call my family two out of three aren’t quite so outrageously messy so I guess I can’t be doing everything wrong. And I do have a very creative child as a bonus.
There is one thing I know for sure. As my kids grow up – and they certainly are doing that quickly I realise that there are some battles that are just not worth waging. The battle of the mess and this kid is not one I am likely to win.
Who knows, some day I may just miss the mess.