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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

To Clean or Not to Clean

I had an interesting conversation with a girlfriend the other day. We were talking about our kids. Big surprise there, huh? Two moms talking about their kids! Who knew?

Anyway, the subject of their rooms came up. This is one place where I try to pick my battles, but sometimes, it just gets too much for me to handle. I'm fine with the decor being Early American Kid. Pick your wall color. Dark, midnight blue? No problem. Want Spiderman Decals on the walls, along with a copy of the Constitution, and a fish tank with three lonely fish and a giant snail? Sure. Want a collection of rocks, squashed pennies, and hockey pucks? Definitely. Can you shove everything behind the closet doors and still close them? Great!

Sometimes, though, it gets to be so overwhelming that Young One doesn't know where to begin. And so, I'll step in and help. I'll pick up, sort through a few things, do a little snooping close examination of the state of his toys. I'll pick up a little laundry and clear a path so that the vacuum can get in there. Heck, last week, I even dusted.

I do this because I want him to realize that he's never alone. That I will always be there when he's overwhelmed. And to teach him that it's important to help people out when they're overwhelmed or need assistance. In other words, the cleanliness of his room is secondary to what I'm trying to teach him overall.
That and that you need to take care of your stuff.

My girlfriend agrees with me, but some people don't. They think everything should be in it's place. And that's fine. But, how do you truly learn that everything should be put away if you don't learn the hard way on your own. As in, losing your new Nintendo DSi to the black hole of your room? As in losing your birthday money because it ended up on the floor in your room and the new puppy shredded it. As in finding out what a Lego on a bare foot can feel like on a midnight trip to the bathroom.

When I was a kid, my mom stayed out of my room. Now, was it because she had three kids, a job, and didn't have the time, energy, or gas mask to enter it? Or was it because she was trying to give me my space? I'll never know. Because by now, my room and it's state is a distant memory to her perhaps wrapped up in that golden glow that we mothers get surrounding memories as time passes.

Flashback time:

There I was, alone in my room, searching for my Swatch Watch with my posters of Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie looking down on me and it dawned on me that it was under my control to keep that room tamed. I did finally find that watch, about six years later in a box mom handed me when I got married. (It also had my prom corsages, my Donny and Marie dolls, and a collection of homemade mix tapes filled with songs of teenage angst--and U2)

I keep my house picked up and clean. I can't stand it if it's not. Sometimes to me it seems an overwhelming job. We have a three story, four bedroom house. As I write this, I'm just cooling off from working in the basement, sorting, picking up, and vacuuming. Last Wednesday, I deep cleaned my house from top to bottom and it could use it again! Grrrr. I wasn't always this way. I remember my husband surprising me with a visit to show off our new house to a group of his friends in the Army. Let's just say it wasn't up to my standards of today. I was humiliated and embarrassed. And I think that feeling never left me. Yes, I keep my house clean for me and for the satisfaction of knowing that I'm doing my job as Household CEO and Domestic Engineer to the best of my abilities, but I also do it so I can invite people in without shame.

I envy people that can sit and read and relax when surrounded by chaos and mess and dirt. I can't do it.

Perfection is not what I'm striving for or maybe it is. I don't know. I am Type A. I can't help it. But, that personality type is what has given me great success in the past . So, I must be doing something right.

So, do you clean your kids rooms? Do you work hard to keep your house clean and neat? Can you relax in a messy or dirty house?

One thing I can do perfectly is cook rice. Now, this seems like a strange segue to a recipe, but I'm going to run with it. My father taught me how to make rice when I was a kid and it doesn't involve cooking it on a store (which in my opinion leads to either burnt rice or wall paper paste consistency). This method allows you to carry on with life (in other words, ignore the rice) and it still comes out perfectly every time.

We eat a lot of cooked Jasmine rice in our house. One of D's favorite meals is my fried rice which uses up lots of leftovers conveniently. You can find the recipe here. Cook the rice ahead of time or use cold, leftover rice from another meal.

Perfect White Rice

1 part rice to 2 parts water (I like to do 2 cups of raw rice to 4 cups of water)

Place in a microwave safe casserole that has a cover and plenty of room for the rice to double in size. Cover tightly and place on a folded towel in case of boil over. It's ok if it boils over, the towel will catch it and the rice will still turn out great. Microwave on high for 15 minutes, checking occasionally. If it seems to be boiling over, loosen the cover to vent slightly. If you can't watch it closely, don't worry about it. The towel is there for a reason!
Check rice for tenderness. It should fluff easily with a fork. You can microwave a bit longer if there is still a little water left in the dish.

1 comment:

  1. I can't breathe when there is a mess. In my house or anyone elses. My house is not spick and span clean but I have to declutter the counters, the table, my truck, everything or I just feel the walls closing in on me. I do not clean my kids rooms, I help guide them in the right direction :)

    The only one that is the keeper of the black hole, is my oldest. The other 2 are pretty good about keeping it tidy. Alex could not care less if his underwear were sticking to the walls. BUT I DO!


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