Monday, 25 May 2009

There's Sloppy and Then There's Dirty!

It seems that a Cleveland man called 911 late last week after arguing with his son about cleaning his room. What makes the story even more bizarre, is that the son in question is a 28 year old school board official who still lives with his parents. Apparently younger man got into a heated discussion with his dad over the lack of cleanliness in his living space, and threw a plate of food at the older gent. He also balled up his fist and shook it in papa's direction, apparently scaring the old guy enough to incite the 911 call.  Now anybody who has had the privilege of parenting has probably engaged in a discussion of this nature. Usually it starts innocently enough with the parent not so quietly suggesting to the progeny that maybe a bit of straightening up is required, and it often ends with one party or the other screaming territorial boundaries and slamming doors. This incident in the birthplace of rock and roll sent my synapses flaring. I started wondering (aside from the obvious and slightly off-putting question of why a 28 year old employed person is still residing in mom and dad's domain) about how bad a child's room would have to get before calling in the authorities? Exactly how disgusting would disgusting need to be in order to push me over the edge? I have compiled a list.

  •  Creepy Crawlies: I am not in the least bit bug-phobic. As a matter of fact, I am the go-to person in a house of men when it comes to annihilating, spraying, vacuuming, or flushing anything with more than four legs. I do not however, roll out the welcome mat for these creatures, and dirt is indeed an invitation that there is an insect party just waiting for a start time. If things are crawling, nesting or flying around the house because they were welcomed by garbage in one room, I might need to bring in the cops.
  •  Rodents: See above explanation with the explicit caveat that these creatures leave little presents behind and can carry disease, so I am much more squeamish about Mickey, Minnie and all of their little nieces and nephews.
  • Rotting Food and Dirty Dishes: There is nothing more repulsive than the odour of old, uneaten, decomposing food. We are not running a medical lab in this house and therefore the creation of penicillin is not an activity in which we engage. Food is consumed in the kitchen and occasionally in front of the TV. Dishes do not leave the vicinity and should never be in the sleeping quarters. Food and dirty plates left untreated invites the aforementioned creepy crawlies and rodents. This is an issue on which I am unbending and would be very willing to call in the authorities. 
  • Unwashed Laundry: While I couldn't live with it in my own space, I can understand a certain amount of clothing littering a young person's room. I don't like it and believe me, Younger Son and I have had many a battle over the years about picking up clothing off of his floor, but I draw the line at weeks of unwashed, malodorous t-shirts, boxers, gym socks and jeans piling up in small versions of Kilimanjaro. Laundry is to be done on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and clothing is too expensive to be treated so carelessly. It is the smell that really gets me, though. Remnants of everything from last night's pizza to last weekend's swim party tend to linger and become embedded in the carpets, pillows and sheets. It might be enough to dial 911.
I have been a parent long enough now to realize that as long as these simple rules are followed, I can live with a little disorder, an unmade bed or two, or some piles of books in the corner on the floor. I hate it and more often than not I would like to go in and clean it myself,  but I have learned to simply close the door and accept that I can't have it all even in my own home. Break one of Dawn's commandments of cleanliness however, and you might find yourself in the back of a police cruiser headed to central booking. 

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