My Clean-Upmanship

I spent the first four days home after taking my kids to college cleaning out their rooms, not exactly what was promised in the “Now It’s Time for You!” chapter of the empty nester’s manual.

But I was glad to do it. Extremely glad to do it.

I had given up on my daughter’s room since we started talking about her going away to college - at the start of her senior year, a full 12 months before she would move out. I had been constantly nagging her to pick the clothes up off the floor so I could vacuum it. I fretted about the stains on her carpet that wouldn’t come out. I threatened to do a total reorg of her room and I even went so far as to buy some cute nubby-woven-earth-tone closet organizers. She was not at all interested.

One day she said, “Why don’t you just wait until I leave for college and then you can do whatever you want with my room.”   * scribble scribble scrabble scratch * I etched those words into my brain for later.

For the next 12 months I stopped fussing about her room. When we had company I closed her bedroom door and told people my husband was sterile and we were childless.

So when I returned home from moving her and her brother into their college school-year temporary residences, I didn’t waste any time getting my hands on those rooms.

And, oh, the stuff I found.

It was like a TV show, half Hoarders and half Let's Make a Deal, but only the part where you have to come up with some crazy stuff that you carry around in your purse. What’s that you say, Monty? Has anyone got an instruction manual for a cell phone that no one owns anymore? Why, I’ve got seven of them right here!

Some more things I found in my kids’ rooms during the Big Clean-Up of Fall 2011:

But I resisted the temptation.

I read an article once in which a psychologist attempted to explain why teenagers have messy rooms. One of the reasons was “futility.”  It’s just going to get messy again, so why bother cleaning it when my time is better spent watching TV and eating Pringles? And then I’ll toss the empty can onto the pile of clothes I just brought home from H&M, which are now mixed in with the clothes to give to Goodwill. And then I’ll ponder the meaning of life. I’m sorry, but teenagers are not allowed to use “futility” for a reason not to do something their mother wants them to do. Suddenly they’re now the philosopher?

When they come home for the first break, there better be no complaints about what I’ve done in their rooms. I got your futility, right here.

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