What We’re Arguing About

Children and the tidying of their room

Is there a difference between tidying and cleaning? I think there is. Gav would argue there isn’t. Now I’m the first to admit that Gavin is very good at doing little bits each day. Though he is a ‘piler-upperer’. Not a real word but a very real trait for scooping everything up in a pile and leaving it there. And not till he gets around to sorting through it and putting it where it belongs; the pile will stay there. Forever.

And me? Well I’m worth waiting for. I’d say that though wouldn’t I. When I get around to domesticity (full disclosure: it may be a long wait) not only do I tidy, I clean and I FILE. And there-in lies the rub. I’m one of those list makers who has a little black book (Moleskine preferably and yes I have tried other brands; an orange Rhodia cut it for a year with it’s cute little inverse rounded perforated corners you could tear off). (Actually I’m currently trialling a tricolour Delfonics.) I love crossing off the little tasks I’ve done — though let’s be fair sometimes they are enormous tasks like answering the accountant’s queries about our spurious (alleged) expenses. And filing; I should have worked in some government ministry during the war where everything was on paper, in triplicate, in rooms full of filing cabinets. I say I’m a little bit anally retentive, but ask Gav and he’d say I’m ineffective and nothing ever gets done I’d argue when I do do it, it gets done properly. A couple of years ago I made nice little labels for all our spice containers. A love of typography and order and container labels like this make me happy in life. I know I’m not alone in this. Anyway so Gav laughs at my labels. The irony is I didn’t actually need the labels as I know all my spices by sight and smell. It’s Gav who needs to know what’s in the containers. As some of the labels have come off over time (questionable adhesive) I can be in here at my desk and hear Gav shout at me from the kitchen “What’s in here?”. That’s right dear reader, I don’t even bother to sigh anymore.

Gav piles the dishes on the sink. When I come away from cleaning the kitchen, it’s spotless. So too is the sideboard AND the living room. But is this all encompassing tidy / clean / order worth waiting for? I think it depends on your own approach. Gav’s desk os a tip, mine is more often than not tidy as. Which brings us to those who learn by seeing then doing — our children. #1 is eight and #2 is four. Gav cannot understand why they cannot keep their own room spotless. I think it’s a nonsense question and can’t be bother formulating a response other than “they’re children”. But Gavin really does believe they should clean their own room. There’s also the added complication of when siblings of their friends come over and set off a bomb in the dress up box. Having two girls results in lots of pink, sparkles and fairy paraphanalia so at least it’s a pretty bomb site. I can totally understand why #1 would have no interest in cleaning up after the siblings of her guests.

It’s self interest why I like to clean their room — I know where everything is then. Everything has it’s own place. Gavin decided to help once … you know the rest. Sigh.

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