Thursday, August 08, 2013

It's That Time

It is August. Children eat popsicles and contemplate the start of school. Geese contemplate the trip south. Leaves contemplate turning yellow. I contemplate cleaning up this horrible mess before I go completely insane and take it all outside and light a match to it.

Which would be bad, because there's a burn ban on.

Back in the olden days, I think I would have been a tolerably good housekeeper. I like menial labor--it gives the mind lots of time to work while keeping the hands busy. Scrubbing, sweeping, dusting--all nice, soothing activities.

However, modern surfaces need little cleaning and modern cleaning supplies take little effort. The test of a good housekeeper nowadays is not her willingness to put in a little elbow grease, but her ability to remain calm and organized and decisive in the face of the unrelenting onslaught of STUFF.

At that, I am a miserable failure. I am not calm in the face of STUFF. STUFF terrifies me. STUFF steps on my toes and shoves me into the wall and tweaks my ear and makes me cry. I hate STUFF.

And I can't organize. Not anything I have to touch. I can organize ideas beautifully. Can take a directory of ten thousand random documents and turn them into coherent narrative for trial. Can take an incoherent jumble of thoughts and turn them into a clear and eloquent pleading. But as soon as my hands get called on to do anything but type, it's hopeless. I'm at a preschool level. I can't even sort laundry and match socks without getting hopelessly muddled. (Sadly, this is not an exaggeration for the sake of the blog--it's the unvarnished truth.)

If it were just me, I could keep up, most of the time, because I also avoid acquiring stuff. But I have children, and children are to STUFF as socks are to burrs in an August meadow. It follows them home. It coalesces around them. Nice, organized valuable belongings melt into STUFF just from their presence. I was, of course, supposed to teach them "A Place for Everything And Everything In Its Place" back when they were two, but I was kind of busy trying to keep them alive back then, plus I couldn't remember the Places, plus the Everything kept changing.

So here we are, and once again, the STUFF has taken over their room and spilled over into the living room. We spent all morning at it and they, with a promise of extra computer time, worked as well as could be expected, and we took out bag after bag of garbage and basket after basket of toys to go in the basement to be sorted later. Blood, sweat and tears all put in an appearance. We did all this a couple of months ago and it's worse than ever. It just  . . . grows.

It is a problem that they have no space for their own things, except piled on top of their beds (which makes for uncomfortable sleeping and absolutely miserable emergency sheet changes). So in addition to the load to Goodwill and the library, we stopped and bought four identical underbed containers and labeled them. It might help for a little bit.

But I know the STUFF will be back.

5 comments:

Darren said...

That is the best description of STUFF that I have seen. It's truly amazing how much we accumulate.

Mary H said...

I am so sick of stuff. Birthdays and Christmas fill me with dread. It is a common sight to see small boys running around outside with one sock only. My unmatched sock box is always overflowing. Sometimes I will gather everyone up and we play Unmatched Sock Go Fish. Each player/unwilling participant draws 5 socks. You proceed just like Go Fish, the benefit being that you have a limited pile in front of you. The drawback, of course not all the socks will be paired.

Diary of an Autodidact said...

Truth.

Wendy said...

Oh, the STUFF, the STUFF!! I commiserate. I also lack the organizational skills God granted to lower life forms (like bees and ants).

@Mary H - I love the Sock Go Fish game! I would totally do that if I still matched socks!! I almost want to buy special socks so that we can.

Alas, now I just buy all the same socks for each size and deal them randomly to those sized kids.

Queen of Carrots said...

They now make girls' socks that are designed to NOT MATCH. I love them. (Plain socks for boys are easy to come by, but my girls tend to have finickier feelings, plus they do generally come in multicolor packs.) I also love children not wearing socks, but that's harder to get away with in January.)