Somewhere between having our first child and volunteering to help do anything at anytime for anyone, I began to get behind at home. In my defense, when you have kids in school, mountains of papers and projects begin to come home with them. The smaller they are, the more stuff comes home. You know what I’m talking about. Cute poems with foot prints, place mats with hand prints and discipline slips with finger prints. (Early practice for those going to juvie I suppose.)
After eighteen years of parenting, our house began to look like a hoarders and we hadn’t bought anything is six years. I am a fanatic about recycling and re-purposing, so every can and jar with a lid gets saved. Every stray piece of string and every stray dog, for that matter, are protected from the dump. So, I guess there is a bit of hoarding going on here. Fortunately, our neighborhood has a group email and a couple of teenagers posted their availability for helping with odd jobs during the summer.
I should have known it wasn’t going to work out from the moment our teen helper walked into the study/junk room and said, “How long is this going to take?”
She did have some nice things to say like, “I bet this house would be really nice without all this stuff.”
She also thought my grandparents ration book from WWII was “cool.” And asked if it was from “the Revolutionary World War or the Civil World War?” When I explained that the Revolutionary War and Civil War weren’t world wars, she said they teach it different now.
“I bought one of those multi-drawer organizers” I started, but then was interrupted by her reading a text she received. Not even aware that I had stopped talking, she replied to the text, then looked back at me.
“Just take all the stuff out of that right drawer-” I continued, only to be interrupted a second time. Again, she responded to the text like Pavlov’s dog to a bell.
“And then put them in the organizer drawers and label them in alphabetical order.” I finished.
“Uh-huh.” she said pushing send on her phone, which immediately buzzed again. “Oh, my gosh!” she said with an dramatic sigh. “This is so annoying.”
Tell me about it, I thought, but said nothing. She finished her text and looked at me waiting for something. “So…?” she questioned.
“So?” I queried back.
“What do you want me to do?” she asked, completely unaware that I had already told her.
I explained again, this time using few words and using gestures like an Indian from a bad western movie. “Put stuff from drawer in trays. Label alphabetically.”
“That’s it?” she asked as if I could have hired a pre-schooler, which in retrospect I should have. I nodded and asked her if she would like a glass of ice water.
“Oh no. I can’t drink water, it makes me have to pee. Do you have any coke?” she asked.
I assume she was referring to the drink, although her previous statement made it seem less likely. “No. How about lemon water?” I offered trying to trick her.
“That sounds great.” she said taking the bait.
It took her three hours to move one desk draw of stuff into the desktop organizer and label it. Whether that was because of the TEXT-BOOK she was typing in her phone (see what I did there?) or because she doesn’t know the alphabet and had to ask siri what “post-it notes” starts with, who’s to say. All I know is it took me another three hours to relabel the drawers.
I was able to figure out how she came up with “S” for the Scotch tape. But there were two items I couldn’t figure out and finally had to call to satisfy my curiosity.
“I didn’t see a drawer for the safety pins or push pins.” I said innocently.
“The safety pins are under ‘B’ because they were all BIG safety pins.” she explained. And the push pins are under “J.”
“J?” I asked.
“Yeah.” she laughed to herself. “When I was little I jabbed my finger with one and cried to my mommy that the “jabby thing stabbed me.” she said in a baby voice, which I’m sure her mommy finds adorable.
Ugh! Next time I need help I’ll get someone that speaks my language. I just hope, my mommy is available.