I know I sound crazy, but I said it. She was just standing there scowling at me. It was like looking into a very sullen trick mirror, one where I was shorter and skinnier and had her father’s coloring.
“You don’t understand!” she yells.
“You’re right!” I yell back. “I don’t understand. That is why I am asking you to explain it to me. I do not know how you can sit in this room for another 45 minutes and not pick up one single thing.”
“But Mom, it is too hard.”
“I know it is hard. I hate cleaning too, but it is what we have to do so they don’t call A&E and send the Hoarders camera crew over here.”
Now she looks at me slightly confused.
“But Mom! Why do you always have to be so mean?”
“Because when I am nice you just sit here for hours and don’t do anything. When I yell you actually clean something.”
She scowls at me some more. That dirty look is so familiar that I am suddenly back in time and the kid again and my mom is telling me to clean my room. She is telling me that I can’t go out until my room is clean and my bed is made and she doesn’t see it happening.
That used to piss me off so bad.
I am the mom again.
“Just start by putting all of your dirty clothes in the hamper. Then pick up six pink things.” I say.
“But Mom, you don’t understand! It is hard.” Her hands are back on her little hips.
She is right. Sometimes it is too hard. I have a laundry basket in my room that is full of stuff that is not laundry. I don’t know where to put these things. I tried to clean it out again three weeks ago and despite filling half of a garbage bag I ended up putting most of the items right back in the basket. Because, yes, it was too hard. I know I have to teach her to do what I cannot. I have a lot of stellar qualities, organization is not one of them. I know that my life is harder than it needs to be because I am disorganized. I don’t want that for my children. So I try to teach them to be better than me.
I don’t know if I am doing a good job or not.
Besides the disorganization and a bad attitude I like to think that I turned out okay. If the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree (and this apple is standing in my doorway watching me type this) she will be just fine. She is a lot like me in more ways than just facial expressions.
Of course, that is also the reason that I fear her teenage years.
“Honey,” I say “You need to straighten up your room. I am trying to teach you life skills now so that you will be a productive and successful adult.”
“But Maaaaaaahhhhhmmmm.” more whining.
“Just clean. CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!” I say that way too often. It is somehow both hilarious to me and not funny at all at the same time. “And stop glaring at me with my eyes. I invented that scowl!”
“I don’t even know what you are talking about.”