Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Hoarding Lesson (No cats were harmed.)

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.

Teenhoardboy14You 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.


Al Penwasser said...

Wow, couldn't get past the poop stain on the toilet seat. I better go check MY bathroom before my wife comes home....

DB Stewart said...

Yeah you probably should. Based on the bathroom at my workplace this is probably a guy thing.

Nicole Leigh Shaw said...

Argh! Teens. I think I'm going to skip it. eHow can probably advise me.

Love that you "appropriated" funds. That's what I call smart parenting.

Also, very disappointed that my word verification is 'cling.'*yawn*

DB Stewart said...

eHow should have a special parenting tab for "appropriated funds" if you ask me.

Cheeseboy said...

Ha ha! I would have kept the money too. No son should be richer than his father. Especially a hoarder.

DB Stewart said...

Thanks for revealing that I'm not the only one.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Did you find layers of dirty dishes with petrified food on them? That's always a good one.

Al Penwasser said...

It's also great parenting fun to find wadded up dollar bills when I wash and dry my kids' pants. Not only do I get to keep the loot, it's nice, clean, and dry. Plus, it smells like Bounce!

Laoch of Chicago said...

My aprtment is available for cleaning if it will make you feel better.

Spot said...

Wait?! I'm supposed to tell them when I steal their change (and any other small items worth pocketing)? Damn. Now you tell me. All those missed lessons...

Very amusing post. Hope I gave you some grinput.


DB Stewart said...

@DSWS Not yet. Probably in my daughter's bedroom though.
@AP I am glad that you too keep everything from the washing machine. I call those tips.
@LoC Clever. How much would you pay me?
@Spot I only told him this time because it was a "teachable moment." I'm back to regular parental thievery now. And yes, thank you for the grinput.

Underground Dude said...

I used to be the one to steal the change my parents left lying around. They never really noticed the missing change and stray bills either as they were hoarders in their own right.

wendy said...

I laughed....on many levels.
I sooo remember my teens and their havoc wreaked bedrooms.
My daughter was the worst with cloths all over.....but since she has grown up and now has a house of her own, she is boarderline Martha Stewart.

is the concept the same if I find laying around coins in my grandkids rooms. They don't seem to understand the VALUE of a quarter.

triles said...

Hilarious post man. I bet that's exactly what you wanted to be doing with your Saturday.

Laoch of Chicago said...

You would be paid in the joy you would receive for getting things in order and spreading neatness throughout the land.

Antares Cryptos said...

The distinction between hoarding and collecting? More rooms and organizational skills.

Hope this helps.

Kev D. said...

You need to also remind him that the finder is the keeper, and that the loser, is in fact, the weeper.

The Defiant Marshmallow said...

Nice parenting technique! I especially relate to pocketing the money. Our sons learned quickly that change or paper money left in pockets that made it into the laundry would be put into a jar and given to charity.

I think they would have learned the lesson faster if we'd simply kept it to use for ourselves and flaunted it in front of them.

DB Stewart said...

@UD My parents were hoarders too. But I just stole their gas.
@Wendy So there's hope for my teens? Thank you for saying that. And of course you should steal your grandkids blind (and then buy them ice cream with the money).
@TR Sometimes stuff just has to be done.
@LoC Strangely, that would bring my joy. Seriously. I could tidy homes for a living. It's because my parents were hoarders and very messy.
@Kev D Yes. That childhood rule must never change.
@DP I think your charity lesson is quite smart actually. I hadn't thought of that. I will now.

Laoch of Chicago said...

I understand. My mother was too.

Antares Cryptos said...

Not feeling it?

Alittlesprite said...

My son is a hoarder. It's mainly empty boxes and stuff he's constructed. He has to clean his room every weekend. Every now and then I go balistic in there and start throwing crap out. He has to help or I threaten to throw everything in the bin.

Alistair said...

What. Didn't he say "Gonny no dae that"?

Kids......they'll never learn.

michael.offworld said...

THIS is what I have to look forward to!? You're right: long lost brothers.

Missy said...

I love to watch Hoarders! I feel so organized and my house seems so clean! I am a bad person, aren't I?

DB Stewart said...

@LoC Thanks for understanding.
@AC Oops. Inadvertent non-comment. Are you a secret hoarder who thinks he's just a collector? 1-888-delusional.
@alittlesprite I like to wave a garbage bag like a matador too.
@Alistair Just gonny no! *clap*
@Michael Yes you do bro.
@Missy Not at all. I think that's why the show is so popular. It makes me feel superior for a while too and then I shake my own neurotic head.

Chelle said...

UMG. Horaders fascinate me. I love hoarders... well shows about them. They make me need to clean my house.

I cleaned a hoarder's house once. I can't blog about it or reveal who it was on the internet. But it's something I've done. A real, true hoarder.

It was the weirdest experience ever. Hoarders like to keep their stuff, it's not just the shows making them seem like it. You have to be fighty to win that battle.

I'll regale you with that story this summer when we're back in town.

Not that I'm particularly organized, but I really do try. Somewhere in the back of my head, my mother's voice tells me to pull my stove out once a month. I can't function until I listen.

DB Stewart said...

@Chelle I look forward to your story and I also admire your pluckiness.
I really do feel for hoarders and anyone else struggling with anxiety. I am a very anxious person sometimes. And my Dad was a hoarder but it was outside the house (mostly). He grew up very, very poor and I think this provoked his behavior. Sad kids become sad adults and so I don't blame him at all. My son though...he's just a pack-rat.
And your stove story made me smile. Ditto my wife because of her mom.

Mrs. Tuna said...

You must have read my blog because you were "shocked". Just like those darn 20 year olds.

Mrs4444 said...

I can totally relate, having spent a few hours at my mom's today, cleaning out her attic in preparation for new insulation (Thank You, Stimulus Money!) We must have dug out 42 women's hats, all of which were "keepers." Ugh. (Oh, and not a penny was found in the attic, unless you count the Monopoly money.)

Sarah Cass said...

Boy...this sounds like my sons room. Of course, we've had him cleaning it...what he doesn't realize is that in a few months we are sending him (and his sisters) away for a week.

During that week *I* am taking over. Every single thing is getting moved out of this house (including the stuff in his room). Only things that are NEEDED will be brought back in. We're even renting a dumpster.

Hoarders are us. (Hubby & I are guilty too). Truthfully we aren't HUGE hoarders (moderate, certainly) but considering the teeny tiny size of the house we live in...we might as well be as bad as the people on the show...our house doesn't have any room for any amount of hoarding.

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