It’s been two weeks since I posted? Really? How did that happen?
Oh, yeah. My patience was buried in the kids’ bedroom under their shared space:
My sanity was buried under Stink’s
storage unit crap hole desk:
And somewhere along the line I permanently lost my brain among toys and games that had missing pieces and migraines from having their parts shoved so hard into shelving they couldn’t be wrenched out with crow bar:
Thank God Farmer Stacey – a dear friend I met from my Baby Center writing days because, you know, I was such and expert in parenting duh - gave me some super helpful advice in dealing with kids and their stuff. She promised it would make my life, and theirs, so much smoother. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
Me: You are raising 5 boys under fourteen years old in a 1000 square foot house. You seem more calm than I am. Like, smoking the doobage drinking a carton of Two Buck Chuck a Day calm. What’s your secret?
Farmer Stacey: We are minimalists.
Me: Sounds good to me, but how do you do it?
Farmer Stacey: You need only tell them three words.
Me: I Love You?
Farmer Stacey: Throw It Out.
Me: But their three words will be, “But I can’t!”
Farmer Stacey: And your three words will be, “Then I will.”
Me: I don’t want my kids to be consumer culture knuckle draggers. I pride myself on their thrift store clothes and shared living quarters. I don’t know how realistic it is to get rid of so much stuff. I mean, we’d have to toss 50%.
Farmer Stacey: From the looks of those pictures, more like 75%.
Me: But that leaves maybe two shelves for them each.
Farmer Stacey: Sounds about right. They’ll have to actually make choices and get rid of stuff they don’t use.
Me: But what about their opinions on stuff?
Farmer Stacey: Let them decide.
Me: But what if something is special?
Farmer Stacey: Let them pick their favorite.
Me: But what if everything is important?
Farmer Stacey: Then it’s not really special.
Me: But what about their feelings about it all?
Farmer Stacey: (Huge laugh) You crazy L.A. self-esteem folk. (Gasping for air) Life is about choices! You’re not hurting them. You’re helping them learn to regulate. You could hire a maid like a lot of people and strip them of their ability to be independent and organized, or you can teach them.
Me: That’s a bit extreme. One of the best moms I know homeschools. Her kid is brilliant. She has a maid and her kid is far from spoiled.
Farmer Stacey: Are you willing to shell out the money on a maid?
Farmer Stacey: (A la teacher) Then you have to make a choice.
Me: Am I one of the kids now, too?
Farmer Stacey: No condescending meant. I have tons to get better at, too. But the fact remains that making decisions – from defending space to working on diet – is hard.
Me: My brain is spinning… I suppose we’ll start first with… I mean…. Huh. I think I’ll just sit here, avoid writing, overeat and implode.
Me: So I am ready to implement. The room is in such a state, it’s going to have to be done in phases.
Farmer Stacey: Sounds awesome! Send me pics of your progress!
So I did.
But first, there were tons of tears.
And then, we came up with the idea of a garage sale to sell some of their
And then I told myself, not dissimilar to tics, that this clean-up thing was not for the faint of heart.
I started to see it as a marathon, not a sprint.
I made up a plan to get it done, and stayed consistent. I decided not to yell, scream or lose my cool in any way. After all, what’s the point of organized perfection if you ruin relationship in the process? It’s about balance. “No, you can’t have ten thousand Legos. Anything that doesn’t fit in the bin has to go….”
“But yes, you can keep your stuffed animals, space hoggers or not! I will have Papa build us a shelf. But until then, let’s clean up the floor.”
So we did.
And then I about passed out with joy at the delight of seeing wood! (Not that kind of wood, you pervs.)
You might wonder why I’m spending all this time talking about room cleaning. For me, it’s because when the tics are up (right now? non stop vocals) I need to remember that my kid has some pretty amazing gifts that Tourettes can’t touch. And I can’t really have him working on those (writing, reading, playing piano) when there is so much crud he can’t find his sheet music or books.
I write this because, in getting rid of things we don’t need, we can make room for new and beautiful memories. (Like going to Disneyland tomorrow! Yes! I’m still an L.A. consumer! I don’t live on a farm and I am fine with that!)
And I document this because there was a time before the Tourettes.
Before all the junk of life piled up.
A time when I just had two little babies and a very spartan nursery and the world unfolded in front of me like a dream. All was going to be as shiny and hopeful as the freshly painted walls. My dreams would sparkle like the stars on their border.
And guess what, Tourettes or not, they still do.
Check out more posts about Tourettes at the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome where this blog is syndicated.