Your Clean Isn't My Clean

by - August 1, 2010

When I was around 10, in a thoughtless moment of hair-pulling frustration, my father said, "I'll bet you $100 that you can't keep your room clean for a month!"  Of course, I didn't have $100 to lay on the table but I took his bet with a mighty "harumph" and stalked off with a goal of finding my carpet beneath weeks of laundry and books and crafts and collections.  I did it too, much to his chagrin and he paid me with a shinny, new-to-me bicycle - the one I wanted - the pink one with the beads on the spokes.  We both learned valuable lessons:  I, the maintenance of a clean room, which has stuck with me since.  He, to never bet me anything because I was stubborn enough to win.

Zander and Liam share a room.  That is the price of a three bedroom house.  I tried really hard to make it cool for them, allowing the bright colours, the insane amount of toys (because we have nowhere else to keep them), their choice of Ikea bedding.  They like it but don't care enough to take care of it.

Thursday morning:
"No video games before you clean your room!"  I'm firm on this.  I've been asking for a straight week now.
"AWWWWWWWWWW!"  In unison.
I turn off the cartoons and take it a step farther, "No lunch before your room is clean!"
"Liam doesn't even help," Zander whines.
"No lunch before your room is clean," I repeat.  "Unless you want me to clean it."  I open the cabinet under the sink like I'm getting a garbage bag.
They both run up the stairs.
Ten minutes later:
"We're done!"  Zander's head's sticking over the railing.
"Are you really done, Zander?  Are you really sure you want me to check it yet?"
"Why do you have to check it?"
"No lunch before your room is clean!"
He goes back upstairs.
Half an hour later:
They're sitting together on the couch.  Zander's playing his DS and Liam's watching over his shoulder.
"Are you really done?" I ask.
"Are you sure?"

I make them grilled cheese sandwiches with extra pickles on the side then send them outside.
"Are you dowing to teck ouwr woom?"  Liam asks.
"You're done, right?"
"Then you have nothing to worry about."

I go upstairs.
I enter their room.
This is what I see...

and this...

and this...

I sigh.  But part of me is feeling strangely satisfied in an I'll show you what clean your room really means kind of way as I go back downstairs and get the garbage bag I threatened them with earlier.

It takes me two hours.  This isn't kid-friendly cleaning.  This is a complete editing, disinfecting, vacuuming, reorganizational undertaking.  And I fill the garbage bag - not with garbage (that was another bag) - but with toys.  "HA!" I think viciously with every toy I stuff inside.

Zander came upstairs once.  "What's that bag for?" he asks.
"You were done cleaning, right?"
"Yeah," he says sheepishly.
"Then it's none of your business," and I send him back outside.

When I finished, their room looked like this...

and this...

and this...

And I ceremoniously march the garbage bag past them, hushing their protests with a, "well, maybe next time you won't be done so fast!"

It seems we have different definitions of clean.  My clean isn't the same as their clean.  I'm not sure if this will ever change.  I could bet Zander $100 but I'm afraid that he just might turn out to be as stubborn as I was and I just can't afford that.

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  1. Lol, you rock (and INSPIRE the rest of us)!! p.s. great job on the boys room, the colors are great!! Erika

  2. Yeesh, if I had a mom like you I would have no toys as a child! (or a teenager for that matter)

  3. Great job! You are an awesome Mom!


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