Mr. Clean

When did it all turn around? What happened to Clean your room, Pick up your toys, Hang up your clothes?


“You need to clean this house,” my son informed me, ten minutes after he arrived home from North Carolina for Mother’s Day weekend.

“I did clean it last Saturday. Dusted, vacuumed. It was perfect. I’ve been busy all week.”

“Did you buy that book on clutter I told you about?”

“No, not yet. I’ve been busy writing a book.”

“Well, you should. It could free up your mind, change your whole life.” He slipped on the Chaco sandals he had taken off a few minutes earlier.

“Are you putting on shoes because my floors are dirty?”

“Yes. It’s bad, Mama. You shouldn’t let them get this dirty.”

“The dog has been in and out all week and tracked bits of mulch and pine straw in.”

He shook his head, then opened the fridge to check out the availabilities. “Look at this! You’ve got ants in the refrigerator!” He pointed to the top of the lower freezer door. There were three ants running along a ridge on the rubber seal.

“Why, they’ll freeze in there.”

“Look at the crumbs, they’re going after the crumbs, you’ve got to clean this refrigerator out, I can’t live like this.”

“I’ve never noticed them. Besides, the light in the fridge has been out for months. I can’t see anything in there.”

He unscrewed the burned-out bulb. “We’ll get a new one tomorrow at Home Depot.” He waved his arm in a dramatic flair to encompass the kitchen and family room. “You need to de-clutter. Get rid of some of these nic-nacs; it’s okay to throw things away or to box them up and store them. It’s less stressful without all the clutter.”

“I’ve got books, I like my books, I’ve got Tom Clark figurines, I like them.” I’d just cleaned, polished, re-arranged all the bookshelves the prior weekend and positioned all the pictures and wood-carved gnomes exactly as I wanted them.

“Well, you shouldn’t live like this. You need to take care of this place, keep it clean and de-cluttered.”

“Hey, YOU are telling me this? You’ve still got a room upstairs packed full of everything you’ve ever owned — clothes, pictures, Atari and Nintendo games, cassette tapes, letters from old girlfriends, leather and beads for jewelry-making, art supplies, swimming trophies, umpteen guitar cases, and boxes of sheet music. Don’t tell me how to live.”

“Give me some garbage bags. I’m goin’ up to clean it all out.”

He took them and headed up. I rubbed my hands together and felt the corner of my lip curl up into a smile. Boomerang effect.

I looked around. The seed was planted. Now, about that book on clutter. . .


3 Comments on “Mr. Clean”

  1. inktarsia says:

    I didn’t realize that most guys could even see ants or crumbs, being invisible to the naked eye with Y-chromosome. I’m impressed.

    It will be even better when he goes through your cupboards and insists on cooking you a hearty meal made only with organic, locally-grown ingredients.

  2. Kathy says:

    Oh that happens! He brought home farm-raised eggs this time and wanted to go to the Farmers’ Market and insists I buy organic milk, etc. And he does cook.

  3. inktarsia says:

    Next, he’ll set up recycling bins in your garage and install solar panels on your roof. Good thing you have a new bike!

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