Thursday, 18 August 2011

A Word About Compulsive Neatness

I drive Jason and the kids crazy for several reasons, but this is one of the biggies.  I have control issues. I have cleanliness and neatness issues, and I have germ issues.  I am one hand wash away from my own show on A&E. Over the years we have learned to appreciate my quirks. (Or at least I have- I can't speak for everyone. In fact, judging from the eye rolls every time I clean something; it's possible I am the only one who appreciates them.  Odd.)
Here's the thing about kids. They are great, but they’re NASTY little buggers! They touch their butts. They put their hands in toilets. They pick their noses. They throw food on the floor. They (this kills me) LOSE parts of their toys. It's awful.
So rather than have everything and everyone in the house making me crazy, and me in turn making everyone ELSE crazy, we have simply adopted a few weird rules that everyone has to live by. That way I don't turn into a shrieking, twitching maniac and the kids still get to be, well, kids.
I have banned PlayDoh from my home and I have no regrets. PlayDoh has virtually NO redeeming qualities. Ok- well- I guess it won't kill the kids if they eat it. However, slugs won't kill you if you eat them, but that's no reason to invite them into your home. So, no PlayDoh. If you’re one of those people who have, in the past, given my kids PlayDoh as a birthday or Christmas gift, please ignore the previous paragraph. We loved it. Thank you again.
Lego- that’s another thing that drives me batty. No matter how much of it you pick up, it spreads. It gets everywhere. It’s like sand in a bathing suit. Once it gets in, you are NEVER getting it out. Have you ever stepped on a piece of Lego on the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night? I did it. Once. It feels like you've had your foot bitten off by a great white. Mother of PEARL, does that ever HURT!!!!!!!!! Since then, we have had rules about Lego. The kids have a giant Rubbermaid tub for it. Before you put the Lego in the tub, you take a fitted queen size sheet and line the tub with it so the puckered edges hang over the corners, kind of like how a garbage bag fits a garbage can. Then you dump all the Lego in. The rule is that when the kids want to play with it, the sheet (with Lego) gets lifted out of the tub. The Lego has to stay on the sheet while they're playing with it (this is actually the easy part- the kids almost never take the Lego off- they prefer to play near the pile). Then, when they're done, gather up the corners of the sheet, plop the whole thing back in the tub the way it was before, and put the lid back on. Now they still get to play Lego, and mommy doesn't have a stroke every time she comes into the room. (There is, by the way, no similar solution for Play Doh. I have tried. It's still crumbly and bad and gross.)
When the kids were little, I used to wipe down their toys once a month with 1:10 -bleach:water  solution. It drove Jason nuts, because the house smelled of bleach for DAYS afterwards. But kids are germy! When I sat down & thought about the stuff they were touching at school or at the playground, I could actually feel my eyelid start to twitch. Imagine my delight (and Jason's irritation) when I registered as a licensed dayhome and found out that they actually REQUIRE that you do it once a week!!! Seriously??? It was like giving a fat kid candy! I am in germ free heaven! And Jason doesn't breathe indoors anymore. Marriage is all about compromise, remember.
Until my kids are tall enough to hover over public toilets, I hold them about 2 inches ABOVE said toilet. This is also the time to teach them that you NEVER flush a public toilet with your hands- always your foot, and you never touch the door locks with anything but your elbows. (And if it's a long bathroom trip, you can discuss OTHER bathrooms, like how you should always be frightened of hotel shower curtains. Never touch them. Or the bedspread- never touch that either.) Kids this age can be taught to do anything. This gets harder the older they get. By about age 5, they start to complain about the bathroom rules. They’re lucky I don’t do it till they’re 30. But then they’re old enough to write a tell-all book about it and I would look crazy or something.
Whatever. Even though my teenagers are now old enough to start making jokes about licking hotel shower curtains, and Squid is still suffering flashbacks about mommy's reaction when he dried himself with a towel he had previously dropped in a puddle on the change room FLOOR, none of them have expired from PlayDoh withdrawal, bleach poisoning, or embarrassment, and none of them have contracted Scary-Other-People's-Pee-And-Skanky-Nasty-Foot-And-Butt-Germ-Disease either.
So I guess the aforementioned ‘Word About Compulsive Neatness’ would be…… Awesome.

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