Tuesday, August 9, 2011

. . . . Or Else!

Summer vacation is slowly grinding to its end, and the lax habits of vacation are catching up with the kids.  Specifically, with their rooms.  Usually I'm the one to crack the whip, telling them that it's time to get on the ball and find their floors and desks and beds.  This week, however, it got on their Dad's nerves before it got on mine.   That's not a good thing.  Tech Guy gave the kids a generous warning, and an ultimatum:  they have until Friday night to clean their rooms, OR ELSE he will clean them himself on Saturday.

That threat strikes fear into their messy little souls.  Because Dad cleans with a garbage bag and a ruthless thoroughness.  But five whole days to get it done!  Wow, he must be feeling really good this week.  Each day I've reminded the kids that they need to get started - I'm not suffering through a last-minute cleaning frenzy/meltdown/pity-party/dirt-fest Friday night half an hour before bed.  Both say they've started, although you would need before/after pictures to tell which few items have been put away, or at least moved out of their previous position among the debris field.

Princess Yakyak likes me to make her a checklist for cleaning, so I did - a very SPECIFIC one.   "Clean up your room" is too broad.  It gets broken out something like this:

     Take the sheets, pillowcases and blankets off your bed.  
Bring them down to the laundry room to be washed.  
Put new sheets and pillowcases on the bed, 
and bring up the clean blankets when they're done.

     Put away all the books in your room - from the bed, the floor, the desk.  
Put them neatly upright
         on the shelves, not stacked all over.

     Clean off the top of your desk, and look through the drawers.  
Throw out anything that is garbage,
          and bag up anything that you're not going to use 
that could be donated.


And so on, for another five or six bullet points.  If she does a few each day now, she'll meet the deadline.  She likes checking things off the list as she's done.  (She's also my kid who's highly motivated by prizes or rewards in school.)

Safety Guy, on the other hand, thinks he doesn't need a checklist, or reminders, or supervision.  He believes in freestyle cleaning (which often amounts to the last-minute chucking of stuff willy-nilly into his closet, and cramming the rest into a drawer or under the bed).  I might make him a checklist anyhow.  He might use it if he thinks I'm not looking.  Just the idea that his Dad might go into his room creeps him out, let alone the thought that his Dad might get rid of something.  (Ack!!  Getting him to part with his stuff is worse than separating a big dog from a meaty bone, or liberals from entitlements.)  I'll ask him several times each day until Saturday what he's done to get his room tidied.  If I phrase my inquiries on his progress as offers to help ("If you bring your sheets down, I'll wash them for you."  "Here's your folded laundry - why don't you put it away in the drawers now.") we'll get much farther, with less hassle.  Still, it will be a race against time for Safety Guy to pull his room together before Tech Guy starts up the stairs with the dreaded garbage bag.

If you hear howling and yelling and angry words from our direction on Saturday morning, you'll know someone didn't clean their room and is suffering "cleanliness by garbage bag."  Maybe I'll go out for the day. . . .