I'm a twice-a-year cleaner - fall and spring. I have to admit, I'm pretty bad for the six months preceding the big purge. I tend to leave dishes stacked in the drainer, laundry stays in the baskets and deep cupboards might as well be a black hole. Once it goes it in, it won't come out again. Last week, I celebrated some recent weight loss with a closet cleaning (peace out size 14). This weekend, armed with new gloves and a steely resolve for what I might discover lurking in the shadows, I went on a raid of my kitchen cupboards. I am loathe to admit I found a bottle of Jimmy Neutron vitamins circa 2003 (flashback) and sunscreen that appears to have had separated. I also found a potato that had grown antlers and vacuum bags for a vacuum we sold 4 years ago.
My kids seem to have adopted my habit of ignoring the pile until you trip over it. Their stuff is on display all over my living room. Ask them to take their own belongings out of any shared space and you’d think I was Captain Hook calling for volunteers to walk the plank. “I walked the plank last time, it’s someone else’s turn!” “You never ask my brothers to swim with the sharks.” “I can’t walk the plank, I’m busy loading the ice tray with my collection of dead bugs to see if this slows down their decay.” No wonder Hook handed over the ship to children.
If I do manage to seize the downstairs, it still leaves the upper mess decks. When they were younger, clutter would get the best of me and I would conduct a “Raid and Pillage.” I didn’t light fire to their rooms or sell their teddy bears at auction or anything but I was fairly cutthroat. My middle son, Scott, almost always had the worst room of all. His room is a cavernous dumping ground of spare parts and shards of shattered toys. Scott is one of those children who truly believes, that with enough love, any object can take on a new life. So, he hoards them until he practically has to vault from the doorway to the bed.
When they were very young, I had to sneak in and raid. It was hard to merciless when your child was whispering good-bye to things as I heaved them. Recently, my son Scott decided to join me. He tied a bandana over his head, slipped an eye patch under his glasses and with a hearty “Ah-har” he jumped in. “You’d best be ruthless, lad!” I instructed, “Only keep the things ye know ye use, eh?” “Arrgh.” He replied. “And what be this?” I demanded, holding up a shriveled, slightly sticky lump. “Oh!” He answered sweetly, shedding his pirate persona, “I need that. Put it back, please.” My curiosity piqued and suspicions raised, I asked again. “What be this, lad?” He took the item delicately from my hands and said, almost reverently, “It’s a piece of tar, I found it on the ground when we were walking after a hurricane one time and I really like the way it has sparkles in it. Put it back, please.” Then he added a little “Arrrgh” to get back in character.
After several hours of raiding and pillaging, Scott managed to part with a dismembered GI Joe, a board game (board only) and a number of happy meal toys that still reeked of burgers. He doesn’t realize this, but I have helped him part with a frayed shoestring, two irreparably entwined slinkys, a superball that he sliced in half and a wad of molding clay that had hardened.
Getting Scott to surrender the trash was tough, but it usually wasn’t the most challenging part of Raid and Pillage. Somehow, I’d have to get loot bag past our youngest boy, Alex. As far as Alex was concerned, that bag held riches better than pirate’s gold. It held treasures taken from his brother’s room. Toys that had been kept from him, waved in front of him and played with right under his nose. Alex wanted that bag badly, so he did what any good pirate would do. He created a diversion and stole the booty. Sneaking it off to his room to, you guessed it, raid and pillage.
Oh well, I’m cleaning his room next week.