Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Parenting Payback

It's funny how things you did as a child come back to bite you when you're a parent.

I remember how my Mom finally gave up the battle for me to keep my room clean. When I was a teenager, she would keep the door to my room shut and whenever friends would come over she'd announce "you might need a "Tetna" shot before you go in there".  She was smart enough to know that eventually even I would get disgusted with how bad it was, and clean it up of my own free will.

I'm still not the greatest housekeeper, but I am a stickler for the "appearance of clean". You may see dust bunnies floating out from under the furniture, and don't even THINK about looking in the closets, but I do like things in their place. Papers, toys, clothes, shoes, etc. left in the dining room, on the steps, or in the family room are not allowed! If the "catch all" basket on the kitchen counter gets overloaded, it's time to start throwing things away.

This brings me to my youngest son, Josh's room - it's small to begin with, so even the smallest amount of stuff left out makes it look really cluttered. Right now, however, it looks like a tornado blew through it. I've told him to clean it up, which he does, only to mess it up again fifteen minutes later. I bought storage containers for all his little action figures and tiny Lego pieces, so that everything has a proper "home". But do you think he puts things back where they belong?

I've tried hard to ignore it for the past few days, just closing the door. You know, out of sight, out of mind...every time I catch a glimpse of his room, seeing the huge pile of toys and clothes where the floor once was, I think to myself "this is what my Mom must have felt like".

I didn't say anything about him cleaning it up yesterday, even though it was hard. Instead I made comments like, "it looks like a bomb went off in here", or "did we have a tornado and it only hit your room?"  He of course thought these comments were funny. I wasn't joking!!! 

Last night when it was time to say prayers and tuck the boys in their bed, I refused to go in Josh's room. I told him I didn't want to risk injury by stepping on all the junk on the floor. I made him pray in his brothers room and I kissed him goodnight in the hallway.  He wasn't too happy about it cause he's still young enough that he likes me to tuck him in at night.

Let's see how long this stand off will last...I'm not sure I have the same patience my Mom had with me, to wait on Josh to take the initiative...he might not crack as quickly as I used to.

Yes, sometimes parenting is life's payback to your childhood. But I still wouldn't  trade it for anything in the world - messy room and all.

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