Messy kids. I have three of them and I might know why. I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m not a tidy person. I don’t like to look around and see things in disarray. I don’t like an unmade bed or dirt, filth, or grime, but I’m naturally a messy person. People who are messy like to say: “I’m messy, but not dirty. There’s a difference.” I agree. There is a difference, and I’m both.
I’ve been married to my husband for 13 1/2 years and I have no idea if he’s messy or not. It’s because no matter how messy he might be, I’ll always out-mess him. He always cracks before I do. If there are dishes in the sink or a pile of newspapers on the counter, he can’t take it before I can’t take it. My “can’t take it anymore” threshold is disturbingly high for mess. So this is the example I’m setting for my triplets.
I’ve been observing them for eleven years now. What I’ve witnessed is perfectly natural. I just haven’t decided whether they’re naturally messy kids or naturally lazy kids.
My daughter will come from playing outside and attempt to lie on my bed. I’ll yell the signal: “Dirty clothes!” She’ll take them off, drop them onto the floor and step over them en route to getting clean clothes to put on. Did I mention that the clean clothes she gets are usually stacked neatly on the dryer in the laundry room six inches from the dirty clothes basket? So that tank top you just dumped on my floor… was it too heavy to take with you?
Both daughters have a way of leaving things where they lay. If they’re playing a board game on the floor now, that’s where you’ll find it tomorrow. If one day my husband and I simultaneously collapse somewhere in my house, we’d better drag ourselves to somewhere dignified before we die, because that’s where the messy kids are going to leave us for all eternity.
My son is the best of the bunch. His messy disasters are confined to two categories: Edible and Wearable. Yeah, he’s a lovely child, but everyone agrees you can’t look anywhere near him when he eats. He doesn’t discriminate. It can be peanut butter, chocolate, tomato sauce… The boy can’t eat a Tic-Tac neatly. Clearly this is not a picture of my messy kid above. I couldn’t find one of an eleven year old. Every time he eats, he needs a bib for his whole body which still wouldn’t save his hands, face, ears or glasses. As for the wearable mess– He doesn’t leave stuff laying around the house like his sisters, he just has a dirty clothes moat surrounding his bed. I’m sure some child psychologist would tell me it makes him feel comforted when he sleeps like he’s back in the womb. Or maybe it’s a home security tactic. If anyone breaks into his room in the middle of the night, he’s hoping they’ll either kill themselves tripping over the mounds of t-shirts and underwear or they’ll just open his door and the stench will drive them back into the hallway. Screw his sisters in the neighboring bedrooms.
But like I said: This whole messy / laziness messy kids thing might be inherited. I have rows and rows of empty bottles on my sink because I’m too lazy to throw them in a bag to recycle.
So when the kids come into my bathroom to grab sunscreen every morning before camp, I have to say my morning mantra to each of them:
“Not that one, it’s empty. No, that one’s empty too. The one behind it… to the left. Not the right. That one’s empty.”
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