Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Curiosity of Crap by Diane LeBleu

Pardon my French, if you will, regarding the title and subject of this discussion. I do not wish to offend any sensibilities with this discourse, I simply could not come up with a more apt word to describe what I encounter every time I enter my nine-year-old daughter’s room.

I was preparing the guest room today for my parents pending visit. The guest room is actually Danielle’s room. Every since we had child number four, Danielle has been booted out on the infrequent occasions that we have guests stay the night. Not that she minds; in fact, six out of seven nights, she finds another place to sleep rather than her own plush-comfort queen size bed. It may be the sofa downstairs, the futon upstairs, or even the floor. Sometimes, when our three-year-old cries-out in the night with whatever distresses a youngster’s sleep, Danielle will go in to her room to comfort her and rest for the remainder of the night in her room.

When we first moved in to our home in Austin nearly eight years ago, we had one child and one on the way in a five bedroom home. We wondered – what would we do with all this space? Like a woman with too much spending money on a rainy afternoon at the mall, we managed to squander this space by having another two children in the course of our stay here. My husband and I are now the only ones that share a room. How fair is that? We have dueling desks and computers in the alcove of our master bedroom that doubles as a home office.

I went into Danielle’s room today while she was at school to make the bed with freshly laundered sheets, dust, and pick up (again). I have to threaten on penalty of death at least three times a week that Danielle pick up her room. Picking up for Danielle means shoving clothes, books, paper into any crevice or space that will hold it and hide it from mother’s ultra critical eye. Her closet – organized with shelves and bins to contain every item she might have in an orderly manner is most politely described as a disaster.

When I enter her room, I usually bring one or two large black waste bags, usually reserved for yard refuse. These bags are completely full upon my exit – every three months or sooner. How is it that I can fill a trash bin of crap every quarter? Let me define crap for you – it is crumpled papers, notes from school, plastic and other foam and bead crafts developed at friends homes, birthday ‘goody bag’ fodder, happy meal toys and who knows what else. I need to stomp on the overflowing contents of these bags to secure them tightly with the provided drawstrings in order to contain the mess.

I have puzzled over this phenomenon for countless hours. My husband cannot explain it either (but then he is also a pack rat. This may explain where her tendency to hoard and store comes from). I am at my wits end – it is difficult enough keeping my house picked up, I do not need another undoing effect at every turn.

I was speaking with my dear friend Holly today, who is currently residing in Budapest. She can commiserate with me because her daughter, the same age as mine, is also a pack rat. I confess I would never picture her daughter as a collector of crap. Holly and her husband are two of the tidiest people I know. Their homes, their cars, in fact, their lives, have an order to them I would argue borders on compulsory. It is my standard that I will never meet. Where her daughter gets her propensity for mess? I’ll never understand.

I was, perhaps for the thousandth time, explaining my bafflement at the size and quantity of the crap and Holly explained it to me in two words:

“It breeds.”

“Say that again?” I stopped in mid -stuff of trash bag.

“It breeds,” she explained to me with the confidence born of experience, 3000 miles and seven time zones away. Her wisdom of this truth, struck me. She’s right! “Crap breeds,” she said. “I don’t know how, it’s one of those unexplained mysteries of the universe, like, ‘where do the socks in the dryer go?’ or 'what happened to all the cash in my wallet?’

I know it sounds silly, but I’ll sleep better tonight. Not because of unfettered crap multiplying in the room my parents will be occupying over the next three nights, but because I finally got an answer I am satisfied with. She is right, it breeds. That can be the only explanation as to why I can de-clutter and de-clutter that room when at every turn I am stymied by more inventories making its way in. Where does it come from? Now I know. I do not know how this fantastic piece of wisdom has come about in Holly’s mothering arsenal. Maybe it is a fresh perspective, born of a new life in Hungary. She and I have had this crap-a-thon lament numerous times over the many years that I am thankful to say we have been friends and I have NEVER heard this explanation before today.

Thank you, Holly, for this peace of mind. I still need to purchase stock in the companies that manufacture these trash bags, but at least I will rest easier tonight. The curiosity of crap has been de-bunked, at least, for now.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Another cute story. And crap does breed! Just let something be "out of place" for two days and you have a field of crap. Please know that your daughter's mess is accepted and relished by her grandmother as payback for her father's past. It just makes me giggle! I look forward to sleeping in a REAL child's bedroom.