And now, from the chronicles of “Days That Will Not Go Down in Unschooling History but Might Very Well Make Someone Else Feel Better About Their Own ‘Off’ Days”, I give you:
What Do You Mean You See No Trash In This Room? Are You Kidding Me?!
Tomorrow we leave for a week in Michigan with my parents, which means of course that today was prep day in which all errands, chores & last minute purchases had to be made. Mostly by me. I was so annoyed about this that I actually wrote a list of all the things I did today just to PROVE IT to, you know, all the people sitting in lawn chairs and sipping tea while watching their children cavort happily for hours while playing imaginary games and building fairy houses. But I won’t print the list here because that would be petty.
One of the things on the list was to have the kids’ rooms organized because while we are gone Maya’s room will be painted and Ben is having new shelves and a dresser installed. I’d asked the kids (nicely, even) to please start organizing their rooms while I was out, and I’d help them finish up when I got back. Maya was on it, and I only had to help with moving some of the bigger stuff – carpet, desk, etc – to the middle of the room to be covered in plastic pre-painting.
And then there was Ben’s room. Poor Ben.
Ben’s room was, shall we say, less than organized. Which means that I would not have been surprised to find a family of mice living under the piles of stuff that had collected in corners and in the closet and also in the middle of the floor. Walking into his room barefoot was an exercise in avoiding sharp Lego pieces and random bits of wood and other things that it’s best just to forget.
Normally I take it in stride. It is his room, and usually the empty food containers get removed (although I found a few lids today that went straight to the dishwasher.) He likes to build stuff and aluminum foil tape is made for a kid like him. Unfortunately it has a paper backing that gets ripped off and (supposedly) discarded. In the case of Ben’s room today, I walked in after all the aforementioned errand-doing; picking up mail, prescriptions, depositing checks, walking a friends’ dog and buying pants for Ben so that he will have at least one pair with no holes in the knees (see how I couldn’t resist relating some of the stuff on my list?) and found…. a lot of trash and just as much mess. Papers wadded up, tape backing EVERYWHERE, empty soda cans, not quite empty soda cans, random bits of string, balls of tape and of course the ever present hordes of tiny Lego pieces just waiting for an unsuspecting foot. I asked Ben when he was planning to straighten up his room and he said, “I did already.”
Me: “You’ve got to be kidding me. What about all this trash?”
Ben: “I don’t really see any trash.”
At which point I grabbed a plastic bag and began walking around the room, pointing out every speck of trash and either grabbing it myself or standing while Ben picked it up. I indicated in what may have been a slightly sarcastic tone of voice that all the books he’d tossed on the floor of his closet are a perfect fit for his empty bookshelves! I chucked Lego pieces and Nerf darts into a waiting storage container with more force than was strictly necessary. I handed him three pairs of scissors that belong in our scissor drawer in the kitchen and made him return them to their designated area. And that was just the beginning.
I was not very nice about it.
There may have been tears.
Of course, once it was all over, his room was cleaned and we packed our bags for tomorrow, we went out for a walk. Hugs were exchanged, cheerful moods returned and all is well once again.
The moral of the story? There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Even in the unschooling community.
So if you have a day in which you’re feeling less than stellar in the parenting department, remember my day today and know that you are not alone. Give your kid a hug. Maybe take a walk.
It’s just one of those days.