Cleanliness is Close to…

If only I had thought to do a “before” shot of this closet.

My girl is a lot like me. 

She has a sweet tooth.

She’s a picky eater (thankfully it is something she should grow out of).

Her room is ridiculously messy (something I also grew out of).

She wanted to show how easily she can now fit into the space now that it is clean.

The mess creeps out of containers, boxes, drawers, and spreads about the floor. It is a litter of trash, treasure, outgrown toys, silly things she just had to have, and art projects. An industrial size container of fake blood is surrounded by tissues, dotted red. A small sampling of soap flakes she has grated with the use of a penknife have slid off of their paper towel and are now on the floor.

Clothes twist around and under furniture.

“Clean it up,” I tell her. And she does…sort of.

This goes on for days. She keeps her door closed so I can’t see just how bad it is. Every surface is clogged with a mind-bending menagerie of stuff. Her shelves are unusable, her desk as well, and she sits hunched over her laptop on the ground complaining that her neck is hurting.

Her dresser was next on the hit list and she has already made enormous progress.

“Clean it up!” I tell her and she shuffles about, filling sacks with trash, or things to donate.

“Is it good enough now?” She asks, desperate to return to Skyping her friends and playing on Minecraft or watching YouTube videos.

I finally had enough today. I sat down in her room and she twitched nervously. She knew what was coming.

It just has the bottom shelf left to organize…

“Every inch of this room needs to be cleaned,” I tell her, and she hovers on the brink of tears. “This mess, this is chaos. You don’t know where anything is. You can’t play with what you do have because there is stuff everywhere. “

Her lip trembles. The job is overwhelming, but it has to be done.

“Look, you start in one place, then move to another. Little by little it will get done. Let’s start here, with your closet.”

And now she is really upset. Mainly with herself as she tells me later. Tears and shaking and defensive, even as she nods and gets to work. “Let’s start with the top shelf. Pull everything out, decide what you want to keep, what is trash and what should be donated.”

She doesn’t say much, but I see that the hanging organizer I gave her last week has a couple of pairs of shoes in it. “Hey, you made use of the organizer I gave you. That’s a great solution for your shoes! How many do you have and do they all fit?”

She perks up and we move through the mess, winnowing out the unwanted, folding and putting away the wanted.

We discover about a pound of mouse crap – reinforcement of my edict to no longer allow foods in her room. They have been nesting in the closet, well hidden beneath piles of clothes, shoes, and random stuff. She clears it, we vacuum, and she grins at me.

“It looks awesome now, Mom!”

I grin back. “It does, doesn’t it?”

I sit in an armchair and read three chapters of Mousenet, the book I’m reading a chapter at a time to her each weekday morning. She tackles her bookshelf next.

It will take days. But she understands the need for it. “Every thing must have its place, otherwise, why is it in your room?” 

She finds a box of seashells. “We need to find a way to display these. They shouldn’t be hidden away in a box.”

And as I write this post, she appears at my desk, “Do you want some grape colored eyeshadow?” She asks, tilting a mints tin towards me filled with a loose powder, yet another one of her experiments. 

I decline and she bends down and draws a line of purple sparkle across Little Miss’s forehead. “You are the chosen one!” Then she picks her sister up and holds her up high above her head and begins to sing the song from The Lion King.

Hey, at least the room is finally getting clean.

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