Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

Reorganizing My World and Slave Labor

notobsessiveMy 5-year-old son is a bit compulsive about certain things. When he was a toddler, he’d refuse to eat french fries unless he could first put them in a straight line across his plate. Before he could even walk or talk, he was much happier sorting Legos by size, shape and color than he was if you tried to initiate a building project.

If you want your shoes neatly aligned, he’s your guy.  He’ll gladly sort  your closet, your cupboards, pantry or bookshelves.

A Peek Into Our Week

  • His father’s side of the closet is now color coordinated with stripped and solid shirts hanging in separate sections because Aaron needed something to do while I was taking a shower. Tackling his dad’s shirts was how he decided to entertain himself.
  • Aaron and I had daily arguments about whether or not the reference books in my office should be standing with their spines facing front, or if they look neater flat and stacked.
  • If I turn my back for a minute, he rearranges the silverware drawers, daily.
  • I left him in the living room for a whole 3.62 minutes and when I returned, the coffee table was turned around.
  • I went to get a clean dishtowel and discovered they had all been neatly folded, sorted, color coded and moved to a different drawer.
  • While putting away his laundry, I pulled open his underwear drawer and found it was now full of socks and where I normally keep his pajamas is now full of underwear.
  • He had a meltdown Thursday night because I wouldn’t let him take all the dishes out of the kitchen cupboards. He wanted to conduct an inventory and then to rearrange the plates and bowls according to a different scheme than the one I currently employ.

I’ve never seen anyone, especially a child, who thinks “cleaning day” is more fun than Christmas, but Aaron does, and the slightest hint that maybe we’ll move a piece of furniture throws him into a fit of happy skipping and anticipation.

You probably think this sounds like a wonderful attribute, and I’m sure it is. But it drives me a little batty when all the knick knacks, family photographs and books that I spent an embarrassing amount of time placing  just so (because I’m not obsessive) in the two enormous bookcases on either side of our fireplace are now in different spots. While I was on the phone with a client and trying to act professional while simultaneously performing mommy duty, Aaron dutifully took advantage of what he knew was a weakened state of authority and moved EVERY SINGLE object on those shelves. Later while I was on the phone with a friend, he decided his first interior decorating escapade wasn’t quite right, and he moved everything again.

While bemoaning to my friend about how Aaron’s need for clean has turned into an insistence on reorganizing my world, she made a brilliant suggestion, why don’t you teach him how to alphabetize and then he can work in your office filing those stacks of paper that drive you crazy. Ah hah!  Project slave labor shall commence shortly.

I used to worry he was mimicking my sometimes OCD tendencies and wonder where he learned such behavior and if this need for clean is some sort of karmic slap (it’s not like I have to color coordinate the bathroom towels or anything), but this morning everything became startlingly clear, and as usual it’s all his father’s fault. While Aaron was repeatedly harassing Kim to get out of bed and join us in the family room so he could begin egg hunting, my husband couldn’t  join the festivities until he’d taken care of a small matter. That’s right, even on Easter morning with the promise of a a child’s chocolate giggles, my dear better half had to make the bed before he could leave the room.

I suppose I really shouldn’t have been surprised, then, when after hunting for Easter eggs and marveling over his basket full of loot, Aaron quickly went about the task of organizing his treasure. He raided the Tupperware drawer…one container for candy, one for the new play dough, one for empty plastic eggs, etc. Then he carefully disposed of all the grass lining (because, Mommy it’s really messy) and finally, he spent 7.4 minutes vacuuming his Easter basket.

Hey, it’s a tough economy. I may hire him out. How much do you think I could charge per hour for the cleaning services of an adorable 5-year-old with an organizational fixation?

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend, branded with your own style of organized chaos.

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