I helped my teen son clean his room today.
You know that show Hoarders? It was just like that minus
a. the weeping relatives.
b. the petrified cats.
c. the patient therapist.
d. all of the above.
Yup, d. But with a special nod to c. In other words, I have no patience with this particular compulsive behaviour because I have my own compulsive behaviours, okay?! I'm a bit of a clean freak. My wife would say I'm more of a neat freak than a clean freak because her concept of a clean bathroom and mine differ greatly. (As far as I'm concerned if there's no poop stain on the toilet seat the place is pretty clean but she has standards I guess.) Nevertheless, I like a tidy house.
Although not your typical episode of Hoarders, one thing was the same about our cleaning adventure today: anxiety was indeed buzzing around that boy's hoard-o-leum like a hornet trying to escape from a jar. A jar with heaps of clothes on the floor. And old Lego sculptures peeking out from underneath their blankets of fuzz-dust. And also a jar jammed with approximately 129 Airsoft plastic BBs and an ice cream pail with a target duct-taped to it. Grrr.
Anyway, if I had asked him on a scale of 1-10, I'm sure his anxiety level was a solid 7. Tense. My wife did pull me aside at one point and whisper, "remember what it's like for hoarders; what seems easy to you is often painful and difficult for the hoarder." But since he wasn't paying me $100 an hour I hucked the gentle approach out the window. Besides, according to the unquestionable authority of eHow, one should be cautious because "this process is often not as simple as it may be portrayed on television." Really eHow?! Reality television is unREAListic? Shocking.
Anyway, in keeping with my own pea-brained approach to curing hoarding (and let's be honest, parenting in general), my favourite part of this task was when my son realized that I was pocketing every bit of change I found in his hoardcrap-piles.
Teenhoardboy14: You can't do that!
Me: Why not?
Teenhoardboy14: That's my money!
Me: It's not like you even knew you had it.
Teenhoardboy14: But I was looking for that.
Me: What for? You obviously think it's junk. Because if you really valued this money you've earned, these gifts you've received, your expensive clothes, all the keepsakes in this room, all the books, all the electronics, all buried under all this stuff, then obviously it wouldn't be buried under all this stuff. If this stuff actually meant something to you then you would care enough to organize it and keep it safe. Therefore, someone who understands how valuable these things are and knows the meaning of GRATITUDE should have them. That's why I've been taking any money I've found along with these other things in my pocket (one expensive guitar capo and a sweet new mini-flashlight I just wanted to steal).
Teenhoardboy14: *stares at items from my pocket, mouth agape*
Me: Here's the lesson: someone who DOES understand the value of these things should be using them. I understand the value, therefore these are now mine. *we stare at each other; in my mind I am wondering if all he heard me say was Charlie Brown parent-speak aka nada*
Teenhoardboy14: Fine. I get it. Let's finish cleaning. *glowers at me* But no more lessons.
And no mitts either. I was hoping to find some to steal. Bummer.