Toys were growing into a jungle every time I turned my back. When I tucked my son in at bedtime, Legos cut my feet. Pokemon cards grew across the floor like vines. I hadn't seen the carpet in weeks.
I'm not usually a fan of "Heart of Darkness" or "Apocalypse Now," but Conrad and Coppola have started making sense. There weren't any ivory traders or helicopters this weekend, but I'm pretty sure I heard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" when I was underneath my son's bed, destroying his secret candy stash.
I know the sick feeling that comes from trashing a village of gummy bears.
I do make my children clean their rooms each week. But my progeny are wild when vacuuming, untutored in the science of organization, and restless. As the parental force, I had to charge in and take control.
Unfortunately, deep-cleaning my son's room was soul-crushing.
If you think I'm being melodramatic, then you've never discovered your grandmother's teaspoon covered in chocolate syrup underneath a nightstand. Or maybe you haven't struggled to remove pencil shavings from white carpet.
WHITE CARPET! What were the previous homeowners thinking? Obviously, they didn't have children.
As I was scrubbing away with OxiClean, I started to think of all of the nasty things I'd like to do to pencil sharpeners. I'd make them understand my pain, one unscrewed bolt at a time. They'd never defile white carpet again.
And then I encountered the Clapper.
I've had the Clapper for years, but couldn't get rid of it. (Blame it on my love of infomercials.) There the Clapper was, lost and forlorn in the miscellaneous toy basket.
But once I plugged it into an old constellation night-light, I was illuminated with hope. No longer was I digging my way through disaster. Now I was making bona fide improvements! This room would be better when I was done with it, not just cleaner.
Clap twice and the heavens lit up the room. Moons, stars and planets; it was pretty cool. Clap twice and the room darkened, ready for future bedtimes to come. Even my 8-year-old was impressed.
It was just the shot in the arm I needed.
Pretty soon I was polishing wood and cleaning windows. I wiped down the baseboards for the first time in more than a year. Soccer trophies got their own special shelf.
Free space, organized books, and a desk you can actually write on; I don't know how long civilization will last. The natural state of my son's room is usually pretty wild.
Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.
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