Friday, March 21, 2014

Messy and Argumentative

During a visit with my mom recently, she said to me, "I like mess and disorder. I think I thrive on chaos."

That thought right there probably sums up my psychological makeup better than thirty years of head shrinking.

I feel out of place when I walk into a stark, clean home. I feel like I might trip and spill my drink or knock over a plant and grind dirt into the lush, ecru carpeting as I, in desperation, attempt to clean it up.

When your house looks like you said, "Fuck it!" years ago, I feel more at home.

When I was a kid, during the long, boring summers, Mom would let my friends and me leave our Barbie set-up out all summer long. In the living room. We didn't have real doll houses or cars. We used the living room furniture, shoe boxes, and wash cloths to furnish our Barbie's homes. It took us two hours just to set up. It would have been cruel of Mom to make us pick it up right after we had just gotten done setting up, when it was time for Stephanie or Sherry or Cristie to go home.

I learned balance not by taking gymnastics and walking along a beam, but by dodging the toys that littered my bedroom floor on my walk from the door to my bed at night.

On my report cards, I got plus signs for my enthusiasm for learning and my good behavior, but I got minus signs on "keeps neat and clean" and on some foreign word called "organization".

It doesn't bother me at all that our seven-year-old daughter has a messy room. It drives Will nuts. I do ask her to clean up her drawing/coloring/board game/books/chemistry set/other messes from the dining table before dinner so we can eat. That's practical. I expect her to take her plate to the sink when she's finished eating. That's polite. I nag at her to remove her shoes from the middle of the living room floor so someone doesn't trip over them. That's safe. But her room? To me, that's her business.

But since it drives Will nuts I try to abide by his requests. If he out-and-out tells Katie to clean her room, I gently shove her in that direction when she whines and moans about it.

"Don't you want your friends to be able to find all your toys because they're all together and ready to play with?" I ask, trying to show her how reasonable her dad is.

"My friends are here to play with me, not my toys," Katie says.

Oh boy. Messy and argumentative. It's like I'm raising a little Becky. Dear God.