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2013-02-21 digital edition

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2013-02-21 / General Stories

What Else Is Down There?

A clean house was never one of my priorities; maybe a far-off dream like granite countertops and a professionally landscaped yard, but not a priority.

There are many things that I value above a clean house on my list; number one is having happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids. That’s number one because if I mess that up, everyone will know.

Number two is a happy, healthy marriage. There are many people who would put this first, but I have made my determination based on risk and consequences and to be perfectly honest, the risks and consequences of my marriage failing are far lower that the risks and consequences of my children failing.

With that as my barometer, a clean house is way down on the list, which is why my house always looks as if a bomb had gone off in it. With a husband, five children, and a career, the demands on my time are greater than the twentyfour hours that I am allotted. My house suffers, but in fifty years will anyone really remember what my house looked like?

My children’s bedrooms are the worst. When someone pulls into the driveway, everyone in the house knows the drill: Pick up everything in the living room, throw it into a bedroom, and slam the doors shut.

A friend of mine gave me a ride home one day. I could tell that my family could be relied upon to execute the drill even without my presence, because as soon as the strange car pulled into the driveway, I saw a flurry of activity through my living room window which was followed by what sounded like fireworks going off in the house. When I walked in, the living room was spotless and my son looked at me and said, “Aw, false alarm!”

I try to make my kids clean their rooms once a week, but I suspect that the vast majority of the mess gets shoved under the bed. Once something goes under the bed, it’s gone - poof! If they can’t find something, it never occurs to them to look under the bed. It apparently requires a different set of skills to look under the bed. The skill of spelunking comes to mind.

Cleaning under the bed is a voyage of discovery. That PSP cartridge that he hasn’t seen since Christmas is pulled out and suddenly cleaning under the bed is exciting. What else is down there?

He finds 3 or 4 Nerf gun bullets, the mini flashlight he used to read under the blankets, the book he used to read under the blankets, 49 cents in assorted change, ½ bag of Easter-colored Skittles, a puddle of blue ink where a pen was crushed under a box of old golf balls, the remote for his remotecontrol car which doesn’t work anymore because he was forced to push it around, the remains of a blueberry Pop-Tart, and a pair of underwear that looks as if it was part of a science experiment.

It’s exciting until he pulls out a sticky napkin wrapped around a moldy apple core. Then it’s, “Am I done yet?”

“Is there still stuff under the bed?”

“Well, yeah, but none of it is any good.”

The cleaning part of this endeavor has somehow eluded him. The only reason to be under the bed after all, is to be reunited with money and toys that he hasn’t seen since he was in preschool, right?

Well, on my priority scale, the risks and consequences for not cleaning under the bed are not high unless you consider that having bugs in the house that have a taste for blueberry Pop- Tarts and old apple cores might jeopardize the happy, healthy kids priority. Cleaning under the bed as a priority has just risen significantly higher.

“What else is down there? Never mind, let’s just move the bed!”

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at lsnyder@lauraonlife.com Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.

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