Sunday, October 25, 2009

Domestic Engineer: Part Deux (The Next Generation)

The rooms on my radar screen were my kids'. You can see what I am up against?

Actually Sydney's room was not too bad except for her changing clothes fetish which leaves a wide debris field. But I have been a little better about going through it on laundry day. The big project was putting a different bookshelf in her closet and then organizing the books by type (hard cover, soft cover, 'God' books, books that make noise, books she can read) and making it look neat. I dealt with accumulations of stuff on her window seat, her dresser and night table. Husband worked on the clothes, bravely went under her bed and even set up her princess canopy, which she has been asking for. A couple hours and it was in top shape:
Now, to boldy go where no Mom has gone before ...

Jackson's interest in Lego has skyrocketed. For the past 3 years he's acquired at birthdays and Christmas various Lego sets. He would take the box to his Daddy. Keenly would he look over his Daddy's shoulder for 3 minutes and then leave the room, only to return every 5 minutes to say "is it done yet?". Husband would toil away and Jackson would admire the finished product for 3 nanoseconds and then be back to whatever is occupying him that day. The masterpiece would then sit on our dining room table until we invite someone over and then it would get mothballed.

Well after Legomation camp in the summer, he has really taken to Lego, especially the Star Wars variety. This is mostly good as he plays creatively and is not near the computer, TV or his DS. He plays in his room at night when he can't fall asleep.

The downside of this is that when we creep into his room to turn off his music and shut his door and either Husband or I can be heard moaning, wincing and uttering words-we-don't-want-our- children-to-hear when we step on a light sabre or microscopic piece of Lego that we wouldn't be able to see even if the light was on.

It was really wear safety boots or clean his room.

On top of the Lego playing, in the nighttime hours he should be sleeping but can't, he writes. He makes lists, creates comics, makes signs, doodles, draws diagrams and makes books. Fantastic creative stuff. But the paper accumulates very quickly. And it's been a while since we did a major purge.

Jackson inherited my love of rearranging furniture. While these days I am generally too exhausted to do it, in my day I used to do it every couple months, just to change things up. One room mate I had used to joke that she could never sneak in late quietly in the dark as she was likely to trip over the love seat which I thought really should be in the kitchen.

The lad went on a furniture-rearranging bender about last June when he was adamant he wanted "to add a room onto my room" and you could hardly move in there even if it weren't for the carpet of kid stuff covering the floor.

Add to this the miscellanea of your typical eight year old boy -- plastic pieces from Happy Meal toys, bits of birthday loot bag toys, parts of Spiderman toys he played with when he was four -- and you have yourself a domestic mountain to climb.

Jackson actually likes a tidy room. He just, in the current state, does not have the skills to get it there. But together we can do it! I cheerfully asked Jackson to come upstairs so we could get to work.

"I'm playing a game" he said, telegraphing that this would be a bit of a battle.

"Just finish the game and come on up." I said very calmly as I started sorting between dirty and clean clothes on the floor.

"This game never ends" he informed me.

"Well we do need to get your room done."

Resignedly, he eventually came upstairs and informed me that he would only do one thing. A little back and forth and we agreed he would do four projects and that I would do the rest. He was thinking each task would be "move laundry basket". I had other plans.

"Pick up all the Lego pieces, sort them however you want them." It is pretty much saying "could you pick up all the sand off the beach?" Fortunately, he can be expedient at times and he agreed to put all Lego in one large Ziploc bag. Every time he thought he was done I pointed to another cache and he set about gathering up the Lego seeds.

Meanwhile I have rotated his long sleeves shirt into the alpha (top) shirt drawer and put the golf shirts into the out-of-season (bottom) drawer. I tucked away his shorts till next summer and made sure his drawers were otherwise organized.

When most of the Lego had been accumulated I gave out his next assignment: "Find all the papers in the room and sort through which ones you want to keep and which ones are to be recycled." It took him 15 minutes to accumulate a 3 inch stack and he gamely went through each one and only wanted to keep a few. I directed him to more and more paper until that task was completed.

I have accumulated his art supplies in one spot, tried to get all the books to one side of the room and took a lot of little toys he never plays with and put them in the hall for a trip to purge-atory, the basement.

Jackson set to his third task: picking up cards. Hockey cards, Pokemon cards, Bakugan cards. They are like leaves in the yard. He obligingly went through his room and gathered up his cards. He magnanimously agreed that we could keep all the cards in one place. He is sometimes a bit of a stickler for organizing things so this was a gift.

Then I dove into his closet and discovered that he was harbouring a whole bunch of ceramics projects from last year. He had my projects, Sydney's and his own. I looked at mine and agreed I'd throw mine out. He agreed to throw out about half of his (we did not have as good luck getting Sydney to part with her treasures but she came up with the idea of gifting them to friends, so if you ever receive a heavy gift from our Girlie Goo, just smile appreciatively and do with it what you want when we leave).

For his final task (and by now he had been in there over an hour) I asked him to get all the stuff out from under his loft bed. He resisted until I told him that if he didn't do that I would purge his room the way I wanted to and he wouldn't like it. He moaned for about 10 minutes before he finally relented, hauled out the last of the kid-crap and then resumed the regular life of an almost 8 year old.

I could then complete the makeover in solitude (well except for Husband's help doing some of the hard labour).

I organized his furniture so one could move, I removed one small unit of drawers that had 7 empty drawer and one "junk drawer", which I sorted through. Husband hung up some ceramic projects and a needlepoint sampler one of my Sisters made when he was born. A vacuum and the project was complete.

I brought Jackson up to do the big 'reveal'. I covered his eyes for him to absorb and admire our hard work.

Do ya see the beautiful empty floor?? Do ya notice the EMPTY closet. I was moved almost to tears. I couldn't wait for the J Boy's reaction.

He was squirmy. I could tell that he liked it, but he was also very uneasy. He immediately fixated onto two empty picture frames, the only thing unfinished in the room. He had taken out photos months ago. I thought we could pick a couple from Disneyland to display.

He was adamant that he wants a grainy photo of a former babysitter in the smaller frame, which requires it to be trimmed. We get that done, he chose a Disneyland photo and we went upstairs to hang them up. He was a little distraught about some of the nail holes have nails on them and his ceramic projects are hanging. He adapted to a new plan as we found space for the 2 frames to hang.

The next thing I know he has taken down the bulletin board and was reorganizing it. Things are too much askew for his liking. I hear him ask Husband for an iron his ribbons which have been squished and crunched up under beds, in drawers and inside books for the past year. However, he was busy. I am happy.

He was up in his room quietly and I know he is up to something. First he had hung the blue and red curtains that attach to his loft bed that creates a cool little clubhouse. The curtains came with the bed and rarely in the past three years have I been able to convince him to do this. He also had put up signs, as indicating the new hideaway was his study.

And I got around the corner to see yet more signs! Did we not just recycle about 13 trees from all the signs we just took down!?

As if that isn't bad enough, I am subjected to an interview to see if I am worthy to join his club! Fortunately (or not) he tabulated the results of my interview and I passed muster.

I thought that he had finally put his stamp on his room. Made it his own and he could just enjoy a peaceful night's slumber in his pristine room (I am jealous as ours is not nearly this tidy).

At about 11 pm. even Husband is sleeping and I went to turn of Jackson's music and the hall light and I saw the boy teetering on top of his wicker laundry basket trying to take down the needlepoint sampler. I tried to assist but he was adamant that he was going to do this himself. He relented and allowed me to act as spotter in case his cranium was headed for any sharp corners.

I then realized his problem. Apparently I over cleaned his room. He started rooting through the send-to-purge-atory box in the hall and put a little wooden "treasure box" and old camera back into his room.

Plus he found a soccer medal from when he was 4 years old and he wanted to hang it from his wall, the reason he was tottering on the laundry basket. He had taken down the pictures one by one but none of the nails had a big enough head and the medal kept falling down. Happily this last nail, the one that had held the sampler, was sufficient and the medal was hung. Okay, off to bed.

But he now had to find a new home for the sampler. I hung it on the only available nail and perkily said "that looks great! It's right by your light switch".

"It's covering half the light switch. And it's almost bumping into the door".

Apparently my powers of perky persuasion are dimmed as the midnight hour approaches.

"We can't nail any new nails in because it will wake Daddy and Sydney" he sobbed. He was not to be dissueded.

I grabbed a nail and the hammer and pushed the nail into the wall (without banging) with the sheer force of a Mommy desperate to go to bed. Fortunately it was just gyprock and not a stud and the mission was accomplished.

Today he held his first club meeting with Sydney. He had created 'stations' under his bed and has brought a bunch of crap back in there, from the purge-atory box.


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