Help! The kids put the cayenne pepper on the cinnamon shelf next to the vanilla!

I am convinced the hospital messed up 8 years ago and gave me the wrong baby. Allow me to explain. My house may not be “clean” all the time (absolutely impossible with two kids, two dogs, a cat and a husband), but I make a point of making sure everything is organized. Everything has a place and I go to great lengths to insure that storage of all items makes sense. All the photo book are in the hall closet, arranged by year. In the kitchen, jars are stocked in one cabinet, boxed goods on another. In the linen closet, the towels are on one shelf, sheets on another. In fact, if something doesn’t fit into one of my organizational categories, I have been known to just throw it out. I even organize the groceries on the belt in the store so that they go in the bag they way they are found in the house. (I hyperventilate when I see the high school kids bagging…I pay them NOT to bag my stuff)
Makes perfect sense, right? Not to my child.
My daughter is a slob. We just finished cleaning her room (me cleaning, her playing with everything I took out of the closet that she had forgotten she had) and I am convinced she cannot be my child. She has absolutely no organizational skills whatsoever. To her it is perfectly acceptable to store doll clothes with crayons and a tea set. I know! I know! Those of you with OCD are gasping audibly, covering your mouths with your shaking hand. Her books are overflowing on her shelf, paperbacks mixed with hard covers, Nancy Drew next to Fancy Nancy. Not only are her storage bins (which I have painstakingly labeled, Crafts, My Little Ponies, etc., etc.) not housing their designated toys, they’re either empty, stuffed with tissues to make a doll bed or laying on the floor. Oh and the floor…don’t get me started on the floor. It’s an obstacle course of pencils, earrings, Polly Pockets and Legos. I cringe thinking of my sleepwalking child stepping on a Lego at 2 in the morning.
Which is why I put myself through this tidying ritual every few days. It’s for her safety. And a little bit for my anxiety. Ok, maybe a lot for my anxiety. Because I do tend to hyperventilate a tad bit when I see the state of her room. And her oblivion to the distress it causes me. The fact she cannot understand WHY the room is a mess unnerves me a bit and I start to wonder about a hospital mix up. But then, I think of my husband and it begins to make sense. She is his child after all.
When I was dating my husband, the first time he invited me up to his bedroom I have to admit, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know what I would find, or what would happen. This could make or break our relationship, after all! He held my hand tightly as we climbed the stairs; his hand just as sweaty as mine. I could tell he was nervous as well. This was a big deal, a first for us both. No going back after this. Would it be everything I thought it would be? My pulse quickened with excitement when he opened the door and I realized it was perfect!
His floor was SPOTLESS, bed made with tight hospital corners, every figure and trophy in place. After settling me on the bed, he happily unlocked a storage box under his bed…and showed me his bills…organized by serial number. On his neatly organized desk stood a binder, color coding his expenses. I nearly had an asthma attack right there. He was one of my people! I wanted throw him on the bed right then, rip his clothes off and demand that he marry me.
And he did marry me. And immediately after, I found out that neat and organized room was ruse. A diversion created by my mother in law to marry him off. SHE cleaned his room. SHE made his bed. SHE did his laundry and put it away so that he didn’t have to sniff through piles of clothes to find the freshest pair of underwear. I had been duped. The binder and organized cash was the extent to my husband’s neatness and organizational skills, neither of which really serve me well. In fact, the binder is a big troublemaker. It made him cut up my credit card on my 32nd birthday because the color coded pie chart inside tattled on me and told him I was spending more than he made. (I hid the binder in the cleaning supply closet. He has no clue where to find it now)
Every day I lose a few more brain cells screaming and yelling at the top of my lungs to the organizationally challenged that live in my house. They have no respect for what I do and how much thought goes into making sure every item has a home in our house with a similarly related item. They move things and don’t put them back with their brothers and sisters. And then they shrug their shoulders and say, “so what?”. I shudder to think of the dark path they are headed down. Soon the forks will be mixed with the spoons in the utensil drawer. Oh the horror!
I have a closet in my house that has a shelf that I call “the regifting station”. It’s where I go when someone has surprised me with a gift I didn’t expect. On this shelf are the gifts I have gotten in the past that I have no use for and are awaiting a new family to take them in and use them lovingly. The shelf is in my daughter’s closet (she has two for heaven’s sake) so she stared at me wide-eyed as I dusted it and replaced the items.
“Whatever IS that?” she asked with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion.
“Don’t worry about it,” I responded. “It’s just a place where I keep the things I don’t want.”
She stared at me quizzically. “Well if you don’t want them can I have them?” That’s the other thing about my daughter. While I will gladly give you anything I am not wearing, using, needing, etc., she will gladly take anything you don’t want anymore off your hands. She’ll sniff around your house and ask you if you are using such and such a thing anymore. And then she’ll take it home and I have to find a place for it. She’s a slightly classy garbage picker and a cute con artist.
“No,” I told her firmly. “Leave everything on the shelf alone.”
She wandered off as I continued to organize happily. She returned several minutes later, arms overflowing with shoes. I stared down at her from the ladder.
“What are you doing with the shoes?”
“I want to put them in my closet,” she announced with smug satisfaction. She knew exactly what she was doing. I immediately began to sweat. LIKE HELL YOU ARE!
You see, the children’s shoes are neatly ensconced in cubby holes in the hall closet. That is where I want them. The reason for it is simple. When I find the shoes behind the couch and flung willy nilly all throughout the house, I can simply tuck them in the cubbies and be done. If the kids keep their shoes in their bedrooms, I have to tromp upstairs to put the shoes away. See? My madness has a reason. Oh and also, that’s where I want them. Did I mention that?
“No, no, no!” I ripped the shoes from my daughter’s arms. “They need to stay in the hall closet.” I stormed off to putt them back in their cubbies only to return and find that she had gotten up on the ladder and retrieved one of the “regifts”. And was ripping open the box. And squirting the foul smelling lotion all over her hands. I sighed as I headed to the bathroom to find a new place for the lotion.

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