Margaret, my 12-year old daughter is talented at making a mess. I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t because she’s trying to be defiant. I think she might be blind to messes. It’s like she just doesn’t see the mess. But I guarantee you, IT’S THERE! I’ve named it “The Margaret Mess.”
We have a small house so things become a mess quickly, I will admit. The Margaret Mess is usually comprised of your standard fare: shoes lying everywhere, piles of clothes on the floor and in her closet and hanging out of her drawers (which are almost always pulled open), books & mobile devices everywhere, etc. That I can sort of handle. But here are the types of Margaret Messes that I find absolutely unacceptable – and frankly, make me feel like the severe nausea and indigestion I endured throughout my pregnancy were the glory days compared to now: popsicle and food wrappers in the bathroom next to the toilet, sticky blue stuff on the toilet seat that has dripped down the toilet so it stains my clothes when I sit on it (OK that’s usually the 6 year old to be fair), MY clothes lying on her floor, unflushed poop in the toilet (she and the 6 year old are equal, repeat offenders), her Kindle on the bathroom floor next to the toilet, not yet turned in homework on my kitchen counter, rocks in washing machine – you get the picture. It’s to the point where, after the cleaning Goddess comes every other Monday, I glide across my floor and step into every corner of my tiny, 1600 foot house feeling as refreshed and clean as I do after a good confession. The sensation carries me until someone walks into the house with their muddy shoes on, tracking in a new mess that breaks the cathartic bubble I’ve enshrined myself in. And the cycle continues.
The worst part is that I think I’m to blame. I think that I’ve enabled her to be a mess maker. I’m compulsively anti-mess (aka OCD) so up until recently, I would pick up everything and put it away. So a strategy I have considered is to leave it where it is and make HER pick it up. But I worry that she wouldn’t pick it up and then my tiny house will become a candidate for that show Horders. Besides, it’s kind of like when I potty trained her. I’m with the experts who say a kid isn’t potty trained if you need to TELL her to go. She’s potty trained when SHE recognizes she has to go before she has an accident.
Somehow I need to get her to SEE the mess the way I SEE the mess. I’m currently accepting suggestions on how to do that. In the interim, thank goodness I have a full set of lungs on me. “MARGARET!!!!…PICK UP THIS MESS!!!!”