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It’s clean – because you can walk in it
April 20, 2009
by Jen Bakken

It is something many children dread (including mine) – the moment when their mother looks at them and announces, “It’s time to clean your room.”

First, they look at you, with those pleading eyes, and try to convince you their rooms are already clean. As if they think you will actually believe this and not go check for yourself.

If this doesn’t work for them, they will beg to perform the task “later.” As their mother, you know your children well, and know that “later” will never come.

They may even barter with you, asking what they will get for cleaning their room. They hope for a trip to Target for a new toy, or to have a friend sleep over.

But you are familiar with these tactics, you are a pillar of strength. Those cute little pleading eyes don’t tug at your heart strings and the begging is something you’ve learned to ignore.

The bartering simply causes an evil laugh to escape your mouth, and your children quickly run to their rooms because they know better than to say another word.

They are now in their rooms frantically cleaning, or so you think. About five or 10 minutes pass before they are back and declaring, “I’m done! It’s all clean!”

With your head tilted to the side, you peer at them through squinted eyes, and your eyebrows are cursed asking the unspoken question, “Are you sure?”

They grunt and sulk back to their rooms. Your little rugrats are probably wondering how you know, without looking, that their rooms aren’t actually clean.

And you are wondering how they could actually think this fib would work, when they know you will check.

More time goes by before they say they have completed the task and you are requested to check their rooms.

At first glance, your oldest child’s room appears neat and tidy but, upon closer inspection, this is not the case at all.

There are items tossed in corners, in random dresser drawers and stuffed between the bed and the wall.

Tentatively, you reach for the closet door, and ask your child (who happens to be biting his lower lip), “should I open this?”

Rather than be struck by the unknown contents falling out of this child’s closet, you give him more time by demanding the bedroom be “mom clean” and not whatever he thinks is clean.

You make it very clear exactly what “mom clean” is, and move on to inspect the next bedroom.

With one foot in the door, and a quick scan around the room reveals a mess that causes your jaw to drop open.

How could anyone, even an eight-year-old child, think this is clean?

Questions pop into your mind: is my child this messy at school or other people’s homes? What must they think of me? What am I doing wrong?

Then you can’t help feel just a tad bit of anger build inside you, but rather than yell, you take a deep breath, count to three and ask your child, “And what makes you think this room is clean?”

When there is no response, you take a closer look around, which exposes a perfect path created from the doorway to the bed.

Clothing, blankets, and pillows have been used to border the path with piles of Barbies, papers, and miscellaneous other toys hidden underneath.

All those plastic bins you purchased, to ease the pains of cleaning up, have been tipped over to cover messes, rather than the items put inside them.

A look under the comforter, haphazardly thrown over the bed, brings to view a huge wad of Monopoly money, game pieces, pony tail holders and teeny-tiny Polly Pocket shoes.

Again you ask, “And what makes you think this room is clean?”

To which your child simply looks around, shrugs those little shoulders and announces, “It’s clean – because you can walk in it.”

You stifle a giggle because this is just no laughing matter – or shouldn’t be.