No, I wasn’t battling on foreign soil with a rifle in my hand. I wasn’t driving a tank or flying a plane with bombs exploding all around me.
I was in a 5-year-old girl’s bedroom.
And not just any girl... but my makeup wearing, Hot Wheels car playing, girlie tomboy.
After weeks of using my foot to scoot the clutter out of the way to make a path from her door to her bed, I had finally had enough. So the two of us got to work.
If I had only realized what I was getting myself into...
We entered the doorway into the war zone, both of us fearing for our lives. Taking a deep breath, we dug into the clutter.
Nearly three hours, two bags of trash, a bag of outgrown clothes and a laundry basket full of stray socks later, we emerged victorious. I was, once again, able to see the shiny, hardwood floor that leads to her bed. In fact, I was even able to shoo away the dust bunnies that had turned the areas under her bed and in her closet into a breeding ground.
Surprisingly, the load of wreckage that, at one time, would’ve easily hidden a small elephant was pared down to fit nicely into a closet, a dresser and an extra-large toy box.
How, I wondered, could one child have so much stuff?
Granted, she is a keeper. And I mean she keeps everything. Wrappers from toys, envelopes from old birthday cards, and an occasional Happy Meal box were among the load that was later piled into the little green cart for the garbage men to pick up.
But on top of the things that were easily dropped into File 13, she has STUFF.
Clothes that hadn’t been worn — or even seen, for that matter — were pulled from under the bed. Toys with missing pieces and broken arms were found hiding in the back corners of the closet. And hairbows! Wow, don’t even get me started on the hairbows ...
Lip gloss, crayons, sheets torn from coloring books, stickers and school papers were scattered from here to there and back again. Each new subject that emerged from her own little “lost and found” she calls a floor was like a long-lost treasure that had been drifting out at sea for centuries.
I finally figured out it would be a huge money saver to just have her clean her room from now on instead of taking her shopping. She found countless “new” toys to play with and it didn’t cost me anything but a little time.
The worst part came with the thought that it wasn’t long ago — a couple of months at most — we had gone through the exact same procedure in her bedroom.
And while I’m not one who believes, by any means, that a home necessarily has to be spotless, I can still only handle so much clutter before some straightening is necessary, so that had been done quite recently as well. This pile had gathered in a mere couple of weeks.
So it’s not like we had just let her room pile up for a year without a proper cleaning. She just accumulates needless stuff like a junk yard accumulates cars. And making your way through the wreckage is nearly as impossible.
So now that her little place in the house is clutter-free and girlie looking again with her pink butterfly comforter and her stuffed animals propped on her pillows, she has decided she wants to add more decoration.
“I want to get some more stuff for my walls and something to put my books in and...,” she exclaimed in her excited, high-pitch, the-neighbors-can-hear-me tone of voice.
I’m thinking if it gives me half a chance of not having to enter the war zone anytime again soon, I can spring for a bookcase and a Hannah Montana poster.
It wasn’t until a few minutes later, though, that I realized just how worth the time and energy it was to bring my princess’ castle back to life.
She stood at her doorway looking in at her spotlessly clean “new” room, a smile beaming on her little face and her eyes lit as brightly as the stars.
Then she stepped down the hallway and peeked into her brother’s room, put her hands on her hips and said with disgust, “Pffft .... Momma, Cody needs to clean his room.”
Kids say the darndest things...
— Rhonda Griffin is the senior staff writer of the Bladen Journal. She may be reached by phone at 862-4163, Ext. 261, or by e-mail at email@example.com