Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Clutter? UnBearable.

At our house, we're going through a big Berenstain Bears phase. You know the Bears: the literary ursine family that regularly tackles such nail-biting issues as fighting with friends, dining out, visiting the doctor, watching too much TV and - yes - nail-biting.

This week, we've been rereading The Messy Room. While the rest of the tree house down a sunny dirt road deep in Bear Country is in apple-pie order, Brother and Sister's room is a disaster area. Mama, sick of picking up after her sloppy cubs, is on the verge of tossing out all their belongings when Papa, the voice of reason, suggests a less drastic solution: organizing the kids' toys and sports equipment with the help of boxes, shelves and pegboards. The last page shows Bro and Sis playing amicably in the made-over space, proving the moral that a neat room is a more fun and relaxing place to be.

If this were my book, it would be called The Momsperiment Bears and the Rooms That Are Messy Because the Cubs Already Have Boxes, Shelves and Dressers, But Insist on Leaving Their Stuff on the Floor Anyway Even When Mom Asks Them to Put Their Things in Those Boxes, Shelves and Drawers.

Guess that doesn't quite fit on the cover of a paperback children's book.

Today, as promised, I started cleaning out my own untidy desk, on the theory that setting a better example might inspire my kids to follow it and reduce the need for nagging and reminders. (Also, the darn thing was so overflowing with paper that Tommy Gavin and the crew of 62 Truck were about to declare it a fire hazard.) It felt positively liberating to toss out the clutter, find long-lost items and see the workspace look like, well, a space for work. The last thing I found, like a little atta-girl hug from the universe, was a press release about writing a daily gratitude list, even when you don't feel grateful, to help you feel "conscious, aware and alive."

There's still a long way to go, but I did enough to make a difference. If this were a Bears book, I'd be showing off the neatened shelves to Brother and Sister and saying, "See how nice and organized the desk is? Now I can relax and focus on my work, and I feel good about what I've accomplished. If you try straightening up your rooms, I bet you'll feel the same way."

Then again, if this were a Bears book, the rest of the apartment would be spotless, my tulips would be well-tended, I'd be wearing a polka-dot duster cap and I'd have a hearty supper bubbling on the stove instead of wondering how to make a meal out of the orange juice, salsa and 10 strands of spaghetti currently in the kitchen.

Oh well. Good examples weren't set in a day.

(Random Thought: What's with the "Brother" and "Sister" deal, anyway? Were Mama and Papa so busy refereeing fights, cleaning the tree house and dining out that they forgot to consult their copy of Top 100 Cub Names?)

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