Thursday, April 6, 2017

Dealing with a Messy Kid

Oh Madison...this kid, this first born of mine, can drive me crazy.

She is a graceful, expressive, beautitful dancer...but totally accident prone in real life and spills EVERYTHING. Everything. She made smoothies in cooking class, carried her leftovers home in a lidded, sealed cup, and still managed to spill all over her seatbelt - forcing me to figure out how to clean dairy out of a seatbelt. It's not even that she's careless - she just...spills.

She is smart and creative, but her handwriting is atrocious. She's closing in on seven, but if left to her own devices, it's borderline illegible. She will make up and act out and tell you stories with dramatic flair, but if you wanted to read them, you'd never make it. Her backpack is a mess, despite every organizational system I've put in place. Her dance bag is a mess and we'd be out many shoes and warm up pants and medals if the studio was as messy as she is. Thank goodness for my compulsive labeling and her studio's relative tidiness.

And her room...oh, her room. I've tried to help her, I truly have, but it feels like it will never be the kind of pristine space that I'd be proud to show off. I put these organizational systems in place, and they last for a day or two. She doesn't seem to notice, and when she does (usually because it's been pointed out to her), she gets totally overwhelmed, cries, and doesn't even know where to begin.

She's not a precise little girl, wanting everything to be "just so". She has friends like that, and I stare at them in wonder, trying to figure out where I went so wrong. They eat without getting chocolate on their face or crumbs on the floor or a water spill. They travel in a car that looks more like a car and less like the inside of a trash can. They write simply and neatly, and put their pencils back neatly into their pencil case, which is always in the correct spot in their backpack. They have never lost a coat or a shoe at dance. Their rooms are neat and tidy - or at least, able to be tidied relatively easily.

This is her mind. This is her personality. She might want to be neater, but it isn't going to come naturally, and the more I try to force her into it, the worse she feels.

And if I'm being totally honest, it's me too. I want to be neat and organized. I lust after pictures of rooms and systems and homes where everything has a place and clean up can be measured in minutes, not hours. I try to start systems, and I tell myself that if I can just make this stick, it'll help and it'll happen. And then it doesn't and I feel like a failure. But since I'm not six, and I'm inherently optimistic, I just make all kinds of lists that will totally change my life, and as soon as I start them, I will totally turn things around again.

So as for Madison, I don't need to make her feel inadequate, I don't need to shame her, and I don't need to try and make her into something she isn't. I have parts of my life that are totally organized, and I know she can too. Now, it's time to try and find the ways to best help her - and me - do what we can!
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