Thursday, November 30, 2006

Don't Sweat The Small Stuff

... and other catchy stuff that publishes well.

"Pick your battles" fits nicely into that one too. I think I tend to parent in keeping with these trains of thought. Party because I'm lazy, party because I hate fighting, and largely because I don't want to be tangled up in a lot of disagreements about very little.

And I think its having the desired effect. If I DO dig my heels in, I generally get their full attention, and I generally DO "win" the battle. This is good when its -32 and I insist on a jacket being worn. This is good when I insist on sweatery teeth being brushed, and dread locks being combed out of hair. On the other hand, if you want french braids, or long hair, or one pony tail coming out of your forehead, I'm good with that too. Just so long as you can manage it, and you don't have a cow when it doesn't turn out the way you'd imagined.

Here's the down side. My children's bedrooms are a sight to behold. Instead of a closet door, there is a self (child) made fabric curtain, made by ripping a straight sheet in half and tied back with push pins. There may be a trail of cedar shavings from the hamster cage which must be cleaned by its owner. There is a closet (see above) but its purely cosmetic. A chair does nicely for clothes, and keeps them well within reach for the five times a morning they will be changed before finally deciding on the same pair of jeans and the same grey sweater that have been worn since September the third. Stuffed animals are overcrowded on the full wall length shelf and four doll cribs that consume the floor space. Six pillows and two quilts on a single bed make for a cozy nest at bed time. No less than 24 posters of kittens crookedly mac tacked to the wall hide the one part that I did properly- the pink painted wall with the pale green and yellow flowers adorning it.

Let me tell you, there are days when I want to kiss the kids out the door, and run upstairs with garbage bags. I'd like to stuff them with: those three bean bag chairs with 90% of the beads missing, a couple thousand army men with their arms and heads nail-clippered off in a recent battle, twelve or thirteen robots and animal creatures made out of the recycling, ello, bits of plastic lattice fashioned into weapons, and those stupid little Polly Pocket shoes. And that's just some of the small stuff.

Then I could make them neat duvet covers and sets of pillows to plump up at the heads of their beads. I could set up a little table under the window with a miniature real china tea set on it. There might be a pretty little old rocking chair in the corner with the Raggedy Anne doll I made for Christmas last year resting proudly on it. I could run the vacuum without fear of Polly losing her wardrobe, or me losing my vaccuum suction.

Yeah, that'd be pretty.
But then I'd have to insist on them having my taste. They'd have to throw out their milk carton boats right away because they'd not fit the theme. The posters would have to come down. I'd have to rethink the whole idea of small pets, and the sense of responsibility that comes with learning to care for them. And maybe my standards would have to come up as well. Maybe I'd have to look down my nose on some birthday gifts they'd bring home. What if it didn't "go" with their room? And maybe I'd have to be more diligent with the boring stuff- like changing their sheets every week.

Nah. This is starting to sound like a lot of work.
Maybe there's something to all this talk about not sweating when you're in battle... or whatever it is that they say.

It's published afterall.


Anonymous said...

Way to go Joyce, sounds like you've got your priorities in order....but those Raggedy Anne scenes sound so pretty and peaceful. Katie

Carlotti said...

The pile of clothes lying on the floor sounds like a pretty functional system to me!

Remember that ugly yellow bird cage I made for Mom out of pipe cleaners? She hated it, but kept it hanging in her bedroom for years because I was so proud of it.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could tell you that the condition of offspring's rooms improves with age but I haven't experienced that yet. It looks the same only the "stuff" is different. Like makeup, garbage, unmentionables... However, closing the door has been the best solution for me.

jb said...

matthew will hate me for saying this, but... until he married MOI, he had all of his items of clothing in one *not so neat* heaping pile on the ground by his bed. he said it served a very functional purpose: in that there is where he'd drop his drawers and throw his shirt off when off to bed. and to rise, he'd only have to bend down to pick up whatever suited his fancy for the day.
since marrying me, he's definitely become neater, but i still find things & items of clothing lying in piles around the house.
you're totally right about not sweating the small stuff. i think it probably makes me sound like a nag when i do! and that is not cool. =)

Bobita said...

Feeling you 100% on this post! I can see that I have loads of fun (or laundry) to look forward to!!!

Anonymous said...

ahhhhhh! i am the QUEEN of majoring on minors.
it's ridiculous.

and WHY is it that HIS PILES always irritate me but mine are just fine. ??!


it's a gong show... said...

I can TOTALLY relate on this one...spent all of last week painting baseboards and doors and beds to clean up that "garbage dump"...guess what?! looks the same as it did b4...why bother!!


Crystal said...

Hi Joyce:
You don't know me, but I'm a faithful reader of your blog. Anyway, i can really relate to your post. My daughter's room has been declared a national disaster, and you know what? I could care less. That's what doors are for. Thanks for vindicating me...


Heather Plett said...

Oh man, I can TOTALLY relate. I actually did all the work of painting really cool rooms for all the girls, and even made matching quilt covers, but you can't see any of that for the mess. And now, Julie, who has this lovely golden-toned room with funky flowers that match the set of boxes she got for Christmas two years ago, wants to paint over it all with black and red (or orange and green - I can't remember her final choice). It nearly kills me, because it took me forever to paint it the first time, but I'll do it anyway, because it's her room, not mine.

A friend of mine who has a real eye for design has 2 kids who have these PERFECT rooms that you can drop in on any time and there is NO mess and the canopies over the bed are just right, the matching pillows are perfectly alligned, etc. It makes me feel completely incompetent, but then I suspect it reflects what you're talking about - that the kids aren't entirely able to be themselves.

Anonymous said...

Yes Yes Yes! to all of the above.
My daughter has spent the last seven years (her whole life) teaching me that is not only okay, it is completely acceptable (and maybe even her God-give right) to march to the beat of her own drum.
She's been dressing herself since she was two. And my oh my! we have had some doozy "Christmas outfits!"
To thine own self be true!

Carlotti said...

Joyce and Joanne,

That last comment reminds me of Arianna (Joyce's lovely daughter) who had a pair of pink satin pumps (size 8 women's) that were her favorite footwear when she was three. She and I did lots of shopping in Brandon with her clumping around in those shoes. One day she noticed people staring and smiling at her, and she asked me about it. I told her they must really love her shoes. She got a big grin on her face and proudly marched on.

Personality. I like it.

Anonymous said...

You should run for President, Joyce. I'd vote for you x

Anonymous said...

But I love decorating everyones room!!!!
I'd come and do anybodys, if they would let me. I actually want to start another original home show on decorating and improving your homes... Joyce you would be the "Nate" on it.