Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Need to Clean

Today Gary's girlfriend, I do think we can now label her as such, is spending the day here. Her mother works nights and sleeps days and will drop her off before going to sleep. Gary had said that he would spend all day yesterday cleaning the downstairs, but you know teenagers like Gary...

...he spent ALL DAY cleaning the downstairs. He cleaned the floor with a cloth, telling me that the mop would just push the dirt around. He wiped down the wooden stairs. He dusted and vacuumed the sofa. The bathroom, oh the bathroom. It is just too perfect. Really, I don't know if it is nice or frightening down there.

I'm sure he is itching with anxiety about the main floor. My papers and books are on the table by my comfy chair. There is clutter on the dining room table. The kitchen should be swept. The bathroom just needs a good cleaning because even though Andrew is supposed to do that every week, he doesn't. She is supposed to be here in half an hour, I suppose I should pick up a few things.

I really don't know if this need to clean is a result of Gary's more recent past. It seems possible. Over the past few years he has lived in chaos and not been safe or been safe in group homes in which everything was kept extremely tidy. I do wonder about his years with his stepmother. Was/is she compulsively tidy? When he left home there were three kids under three years of age (remember, one set of twins), three school-age girls, and him. It seems unlikely to me that that house was kept exceptionally tidy, but then maybe again that was how step mother coped.

My sister and Gary get along wonderfully. She has to mop the floors every day. She too has to keep everything just so. She admits to me that somewhere deep inside she feels like she will be okay if she just keeps everything clean. She laughs about it, and accepts it. I on the other hand am just not like that. My sister and I had roughly the same experiences growing up, and we did not respond the same way. My sister worked to control her environment and I retreated to a world of books and fantasy. She tried to please my father; I tried not to be noticed.

For a while I wondered if Gary's need to clean was just about phase one behavior, part of the whole being extra good while trying to figure us out. I am beginning to think not though. Oh he may relax a bit as he gets more comfortable. I have noticed that he will sometimes leave a dirty dish in his room for a whole day, but this level of tidiness has to come from somewhere deeper.

I must admit, of all the "issues" a kid could come with, compulsive tidiness is one of the easiest to accept.

Then again, maybe he isn't compulsively tidy. Maybe I'm just a slob.


  1. I would give my left arm for a kid that picked up after themselves and my first born if they would clean up after all of us. Such a fantasy life you lead.

  2. Can he come live with me for a while???


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