Friday, June 06, 2008

Photo Friday meme: Destruction

This is from a meme challenge from last year on another blog I was keeping, but have now deleted. I wanted to save this post, so I brought it over here... seemed to fit well.


Of course there will be all kinds of posts about war, natural disasters, violent much destruction in the world.

But I wanted to explore something a bit more mundane. Something that captured the essence of life with children and the inevitable destruction that flows rampant in their wake.

This is a photo of my girls' room. You probably can't tell, but the carpet is a sandy colored shag, which is great for hiding wear. Unfortunately, it's also great for swallowing itty-bitty Polly Pocket shoes, legos and all the other minutae of childhood, which then get sucked into the vacuum vortex never to be seen again.

Or, if it happens to be a heavy magnetic geomag ball, it whips around the beater bar at such velocity that it blows a hole in the back of the vacuum, requiring yet another application of that universal problem-solver (sounds like something put out by the pentagon, doesn't it?)—duct tape!

This photo captures the essence of householding itself and the entropy held barely at bay by even the most assiduous. Sadly, it also serves as a symbol of so many parent/child relationships.

"Clean your room!" rings out, the unfortunate litany of beleaguered mothers across the country who unwittingly—or perhaps they can't help themselves because they really have become their mothers—turn a 12x12 space into a battleground upon which die innumerable relationships each week.

What if, instead of a battleground, a mom chose to turn this scene into an opportunity for connection, into precious moments spent getting to know children simply through the offer of help?

What if, instead, a mom presented her energy and aid as a gift to her children and helped them sort through their many treasures strewn across the floor as she might help a hopelessly disorganized friend find her basement, enjoying the conversation and connection along the way?

What if...


Linda said...

That's great. I think we need more pictures like this up on the internet to counteract the perfect house syndrome we've foisted on ourselves and that the magazines encourage.

I affectionately refer to my children as the "minions of entropy". :p

I wish I was comfortable leaving things a mess (not for them, for me.) My discomfort arises almost totally from the fear that someone will see. I would like so badly to be free from that. I was talking to another mom recently who had the state coming in for an unrelated issue (she's caretaking and relying on state funds) and she was worried that if she didn't make the house spic-n-span they would call CPS. I'm looking around and like, Wow, this just looks really normal to me. Like your photo above. And this is what a lot of us in this culture have come to. Fear of mess, fear of being punished for mess. I don't think her fears are completely unwarranted either. It's crazy.

Anonymous said...

I think it is great to bond with your children in that way but I think a mess is a mess. It is not pleasant, it is not comfortable, it is not harmonious, it is not peaceful. Messes are created daily, of course, and that is healthy, but they should be tidied up - in my case, daily, preferably ;). I don't think it is solely a social expectations kind of issue. It is a personal issue, and it deals with well being and such. You look at every culture in the world, specially at the most "primitive" civilizations, and even the huts and the igloos have an order, a righteousness about them - humans need that sort of spatial peace in the place they call home. I'm not new-age-ish at all but the feng shui thing does make a lot of sense and, if you think about it, it is sought after everywhere, in any moment in history...

Sorry for the rambling.
Love the way you live your life!!

Marta from Lisbon

Kim said...

Nice. Were you one of those moms? How long did it take to bond and clean? I agree with you and on a good day I'd be that awesome mom. On a bad day I'd probably be threatening to sweep stuff in to a trashbag. Most days, inbetween. But I do think work can be fun when done together.

Rachel said...

Danielle, I LOVE this photo of their room, and I have really appreciated when you have posted similar photos in the past to show that the house is not "picture perfect," that there is space to live and grow and explore and create, and all of that is messy stuff.

I could post a few followup photos of our entire house, which often is covered in Legos and Playmobil, and pirate treasures, and art supplies-- and today happens to be covered in candy sprinkles and cereal, eeek! The sprinkles spill was a few minutes after they painted the floor (and Otto's hair) and a couple of hours before they decided to make their own pancakes in the kitchen, completely unaided (I found Max trying to clean up an egg spill all on his own).

And I look forward to perhaps bonding and cleaning with my kids over their toys, but I won't hold my breath about it. At this point, it's usually me that can't stand the extreme mess (although I am pretty darn tolerant, considering it's the whole house and not just a few rooms that are messy), and so, of course, since it is me who is bothered by the mess, it is me who cleans it up. I do keep this in mind and don't feel that it is something that I should expect of them, so somehow that makes cleaning up after them just another part of what I can do for them, a gift I can give them. I often clean up one area of their play while they are playing something else, so in that sense, we are both on the floor, sort of playing together.

And sometimes they help me sort out their Legos or something like that, but mostly, I think they just appreciate that it is sort of tidy some of the time, and we can all make a fresh start.

It's worth noting that as soon as the house is mostly clean (after the floor has been mopped, for instance), they begin a really messy project, dumping cinnamon and flour and tapioca onto the table as a great place for their action figures to have a rescue mission), as if to say, "Oh, wow, look at all this clean space! Let us help you mess it up again!"

RainbowRivers said...

Thankyou for sharing this photo of the perfectly NORMAL reality room in a mom's household! It is so common for mothers to make this a battle field and the constant fight of "Go clean your room!" In many instances mothers forget that cleaning up messes need to be modeled, and the only way to model this behavior is to help them and work side by side giving instructions on what to do. Not only that but what happens when a mothers house goes past her dirt tolerance? Usually it leaves one with a sense of being totally overwhelmed but yet forget that when childrens rooms get this messy, they are overwhelmed, maybe even more so than an adult on the prospect of cleaning the mess all by themselves with the feeling of dispare not having a clue on where to start. Especially with younger children, think if our whole house was this messy or even messier, how overwhelmed would you be at the idea of tackling it yourself? Our helping by working side by side is not only modeling proper clean up skills ( which they really need to learn) but also acts as a safety net for them and taking away the feelings of an overwhelming, unthinkable task at hand and turning it into something much more enjoyable.

Sorry for the rambling! I loved this post!

Mud Mama said...

I love this post but there is a big BUT brewing...but I think I'll take it to my blog.

Anonymous said...

well said. thanks for the reminder.

meredith said...

A couple years ago, during an "open house" of my quilting studio, some of the menfolk who had come along for the ride snuck into George's workshop. Its a pretty typical woodworkers shop, which is to say, it was a disaster area! I don't remember how many times that day I heard "see, honey, this is how the Professionals do it" in a tone that clearly meant "so get off my back about the garage".

Messes can be a hassle, for sure, but there's something so intimate about a mess. I love to see a messy home in a photo or irl - its like an offer of friendship "be welcome in my mess".

Holly Simpson said...

Danielle, I love this post and linked to it from this post about my daughter's room.

Whether I clean her room for her, we clean together, or I just shut the bedroom door and don't look for a while :-), scattered toys and things aren't worth time spent upset with each other.

mindy said...

I enjoyed reading this post, and seeing the very familiar sight of toys and living and work strewn about a very active little girls room. Ella and I always have a blast when we decide it's time to organize and create some floor space in her room. I am so happy it is not a battle of wills and that our relationship isn't based on how clean a 6 year old can keep her room!

Robyn L. Coburn said...

You think that's a mess? Watch "How Clean is Your House" on BBC America. It always makes me feel a ton better, plus they have some good how to tips.

One of the things that I have made an effort with over the years is to pick up the tiny stuff rather than let it get lost. I know I have failed at different times in that, but being able to maintain the pairs of shoes and the tiny teacups is important to both Jayn and I. The miniature props fascinate me! I never had enough accessories to my dolls as a child.

Also I can't stand changing vacuum bags. I know they are supposed to suck better than bagless, but they are not better if I never turn them on because I dread the bag change! I have a Dyson with the swirling clear canister where I can see the Polly whizzing by if I have picked her up.

My house is messy because it is too small for all the stuff and activities, and all our storage cupboards are full (of constantly used stuff and supplies). I was so grateful when a friend came by last week (and I warned her that it seemed chaotic because of ongoing projects) and her response to our living-room-cum-workshop was to say with a twinge of envy, "So many choices. How do you choose what to do first?"

Cid said...

I love this post, Danielle!! And I'm one of those strange people that enjoys connecting with my boys through their messy (sometimes) rooms! I love how each of them has his own must find a way to organize so that he's able to keep *every last ________* and the other is a "nope, don't play with that anymore, give it away" guy. And both are perfect just as they are :)

Peace & Abundance-Cid