My quest for normal messiness

I’m not trying to have any more kids, but it often feels like it would be nice to have another point of reference. Where does each random behavior my kids exhibit fall on the spectrum of what’s “normal” for a 5 or 2 year-old?

My gut instinct is that BB is on the extreme messy end, but what do I know? She’s the only 5 year-old I’m living with.

At the beginning of the pandemic I turned our dining room into BB’s art room. BB is incapable of cleaning it on her own. Sometimes we do it together. Sometimes I do it by myself. Sometimes I see Captain in there muttering under his breath.

One evening I came downstairs and Captain was staring into the abyss of layers and layers of paper, glue, scissors, crayons, paint, pipe cleaners, markers, jewels, stickers, foam, feathers, and felt pom poms spread across the expanse of the table and floor.

As I write this, it occurred to me, maybe it’s my fault for giving her so many mediums.

I press into Captain’s side. He says,

“How does this end?”

“You mean what is going to become of BB?”

“Yeah.”

“I think she’s going to be one of those people who ends up with rotting food in her bedroom and she won’t care.”

He looks at me in horror. I have missed my opportunity to make us feel better.

I don’t let the kids take food upstairs, so this future is not imminent.

BB simultaneously knows her surroundings are a mess and doesn’t care. One morning she woke up inspired. She rushed to her art room and sketched a picture of her bedroom, complete with a dresser full of half-open drawers and clothes falling out every which way.

She’s observant. She knows things are a mess.

When BB eats anything, 20% ends up on the table and floor. That’s if we remind her to hold over her plate. Without any reminders the situation deteriorates. And while she’ll acknowledge a grape, tortellini or whole cookie on the floor, the chances of her picking it up are zero.

My gut instinct tells me she’s messier than the average bear. School reassured me that that’s correct.

BB came home and told me,

“I got in trouble at lunch today.”

“What happened?!”

BB is nothing if not an extreme rule follower. Minimal baby proofing required because she just wouldn’t do what she wasn’t supposed to do. So I couldn’t begin to guess what happened at lunch. BB explains,

“I made a mess with my lunch.”

“On purpose?”

“No! But the teacher didn’t believe that it was by accident.”

And there is the proof. BB is so messy that other people can’t fathom it’s her normal state of being.

Two years ago I questioned if I could parent my way out of the mess, then RB came along and is at the opposite end of the spectrum. BB couldn’t be messier and RB couldn’t be neater. BUT that is not a clear positive. RB, in my opinion, may have severe OCD.

RB NEEDS to put things in their spot. Her lovie has had a specific spot since she was 11 months old. If she takes a book off the shelf, it goes back in the exact same spot, between the same two books.

When BB gets home from school, she strips and leaves a trail of laundry from the front door, through the kitchen into the living room. RB follows on her heels, picking everything up and muttering,

“Put away, put away.”

I will tell RB to go play and instead she’ll be under the kitchen table with the dust pan sweeping up half of BB’s snack.

If I leave something somewhere it doesn’t belong. I have a pint-size person at my feet telling me,

“Put it away!”

If I put her water bottle anywhere but in its “spot,” I’m going to hear about it.

When I pick RB up at the YMCA playroom, she’s compelled to clean up before she leaves.

Going to a playground with her is really just a trash pick-up mission.

So as impossible as it is for RB to leave a mess, I now feel how futile it is to hope for BB’s underwear to not end up on my kitchen table.

BB is desperate to share a room with RB. It has the whiff of a social experiment and I’m inclined to give it a go. But not until RB is done with her crib.

RB loves her “cribby,” as much as I love having her contained. She likes to sleep all smushed up at one end. So considering that, she’ll fit in it for another three years.

How does this all end? Will our home somehow average out and end up in the middle of the messiness spectrum?

I’m at the point where I wonder if maybe BB’s M.O. leads to a more enjoyable, go with the flow lifestyle, with or without underwear.

My dining room
Room to spare

4 thoughts on “My quest for normal messiness

  1. I was very similarly messy my whole life and I was undiagnosed OCD/ASD until 21. I shared a room with my sibling, and it actually helped with my compulsions! It taught me to set boundaries which is generally tougher for OCD kiddos. My brother would move my stuff and it would set off OCD panic until I was able to establish a strict ‘my space’ and ‘your space’ limit. He also would help me clean which prevented executive dysfunction. On the opposite end of someone compulsively clean, your other little one may help to curve the ‘all or nothing’ feeling! Stay hopeful and consult with experts if possible 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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