Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Coming Clean

Mural on 11th, between Pike and Pine.
Posted by Melissa Baumgart
In an earnest attempt at parenting more effectively, I have been listening to my husband quoting his latest read, "Summerhill School, A New View of Childhood" by A.S. Neill.  One quote that hit me was along the lines of, if you leave a child to their own devices, even the most obnoxious child will be pleasant and cooperatively functioning within 3 months.  I decided to not only listen, but place into action some new techniques.  

One day, Jamie walked up to me in the hallway, and looking perplexed he offered me some of his own personal insights from the book.  "Because we have bought into the structures of society, because we have an ideal that we want to live up to, we often put those belief systems first, instead of the emotional well-being of our own children.  We place more importance on the dogmas of society than other human beings."  

Lily, with mural by NKO and
Joe “Scratchmaster Joe” Martinez
My daughters' room has been ridiculously messy.  For quite some time, I had fought day in and day out about them cleaning it, likely belittling and demeaning them in the process.  After hearing Jamie's revelation, I decided to try a new thing.  I always come up with quirky names for our house rules, and this one was no exception, it was to be a "closed door policy."  If you want to leave you room piled with clothes three inches thick on every open space, then  just keep your door closed.

My secret hope was that someday they would find the desire to clean it themselves.  And the best part would be that they would not need me to tell them to do it.  They would want it clean!  And maybe they would keep it that way.  I know, I probably should have been more pure in my earnestness, but instead I had ulterior motives.
Yes, that is the floor you can see!

Then, this past weekend, I set out to clean the house.  As usual, I suggested that my kids help out in some way.  I usually make a list of chores and let them pick.  The new thing is the "Fast 15", in which we all get busy cleaning for 15 minutes, and then we're done.  This day though, was different, we had at least a "Long 120" in front of us.

To my surprise, the girls set out cleaning their room, for three plus hours.  They cleaned the entire thing and have kept it that way for 4 days now.  They even make their beds every morning and put their clean clothes away!

My real reason for telling this story is all about a mural.  No, there's not supposed to be a moral to the story, just a mural.  Haha.  Anyway, my youngest got rid of four bags of her toys, since she doesn't play with them at all.  My oldest and I schlepped them to Value Village to unload our unwanted possessions.  Thank God for that place!  And there, on the wall across from the donation spot, is another of our favorite murals.  

I have always loved it because the top is scripted with an O that resembles the Baltimore Orioles O.  And sometimes I really do miss my people in Baltimore.  And believe it or not, Hon, I sometimes miss Baltimore itself.  I also love it because it reminds me of the mural where Amy and I took our "Urban Homesteading" photos.  And that was an amazing day in GLWT history!

And to totally come clean myself, this mural month might just be a bust.  But then again, you never know, I have been known to surprise even myself!


Cassandra said...

Great job tricking your kids into cleaning their room. ;) That quote about putting belief systems ahead of people sounds so true, and not just in the areas of childrearing...

Matt said...

Great play on moral mural.

Melissa Baumgart said...

Cassandra, I agree, that quote is far reaching.
Matt, thanks...that kind of stuff just naturally comes to me all the time. lol.