Aug 17, 2006 

Breathe.  Thatís what I have to tell myself every time I walk past my daughters room.  We have been fighting over her lack of cleanliness for as long as I can remember and Iím done.  Telling her to clean, giving her a ďHow to Clean  You RoomĒ list to follow and the many rewards and punishments Iíve promised havenít worked.  She still keeps her room a pigsty. 

Yes, we all know Iím a bit on the anal side and clean to me may be something entirely different to you.  So tell me, are rotting apples in a bowl inside a sock drawer clean?  How about a extra large bag of birthday confetti open and spread all over  the floor?   Perhaps a dirty closest means something other than a stack of clothes, blankets, suitcases (still not unpacked from July), garbage, books, etc. over three feet high? Hey, maybe itís just me but those are not signs of a clean room. Not in the house of Aspenson that is.  

You cannot see the top of her dresser.  You can see the garbage (which could easily have been thrown into the garbage can RIGHT NEXT to the dresser) and you can see the jewelry, papers, pens, markers and various other school supplies spread across it.   

After trying everything from giving her cash, taking her stuff completely out of her room and having her earn it back, to throwing almost everything away, Iím done. Over the whole thing. I close the door. But thereís a catch.  

In my family everyone is required to do certain things, to keep up their end of the responsibility ladder.  We keep our rooms generally clean (I like to be able to see at least parts of the floor and dresser topsÖnot  asking much, is it?), we share in the daily chores.  Nothing major.   Because we all participate in  these things, we all get certain privileges.  Things like, having our laundry done, having friends over, getting new clothes, games, etc.  So I made a deal with my daughter.   Iím not going to bother her about her room anymore.  She can keep it however she wants.  She doesnít have to lie (I cleaned my roomÖand stuffed everything into the closet and into my drawers) and make promises she has no intentions of keeping (Iím going to clean my room) and I no longer have to listen to it all.  But hereís the catch.  She is no longer aloud the privileges that go along with keeping your room reasonably clean.  No friends over.  No new clothes, jewelry or anything that can go into her bedroom.  Oh, and no laundry done by the professional laundress, her mother.   

Iím hoping the laundry cleaning will become an issue.  We have a new washer and dryer and she isnít able to reach the dryer nor can she work either machine without supervision.  And Iím sorry, but I just might be too busy to help if she ever decides to do her laundry.  She hasnít yet.  My hope is that her clothes will be dirty and start to smell and a friend or someone at school will comment on it, embarrassing her into making a change.  Call  me mean,  call me cruel but I donít care.  My consequences have yet to have any impact on this child.  She is more likely to change because of the natural consequences from her actions rather than mine.   

Iím not asking for perfection.  Iím asking she take responsibility for her things and respect them.  Iím asking she show the others in this home the same respect they show her.  Sheís almost thirteen years old and itís time to be more responsible.  

Iíve sat in her room while sheís cleaned (the right way) so I know she can do it.  Iíve given her cash to clean it a certain way, so thereís no question she can do it.  She simply chooses not to.  It overwhelms her, she says. So Iíve shown her ways to change thatÖclose the drawers when you open themÖthrow garbage in the canÖfold the shirt you decide not to wear and put it back in the drawer.  She knows what to do.  And now,  so do I.  

Itís not easy for someone of my anal retentive nature to walk by and see the pigsty.  Just thinking about it makes my head pound.  Hard.  But there is nothing else I can do to make my daughter realize her actions have consequences and that sheís in control of those actions.  Believe me, Iíve tried everything.


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