Daily life

The New Sisyphus

2:24 PM

Sisyphus was a Greek Mythology King that has been punished and compelled to  push a huge rock up a hill only to have it roll back down for him to push back up again and again and again with no end to it.
Even today we refer to a Sisyphean work or chore when we speak of an endless, and rather repetitive task.
Now I’ll give you the New Age Sisyphus: Mothers (or fathers) who are compelled to clean their kid’s room, because a kid’s room has to be neat, clean, and a happy place. The problem is that kids don’t care what parents think is happy, neat, and clean. I don’t know a single mom, me included who doesn’t spend hours trying to make their kiddo’s room presentable and clean enough to play in, only to have their kiddo rush back into the place, and turn it upside down 5 minutes after the last book has been placed on the shelf, to end up with the exact same chaos that has been cleared in the first place.
Sound familiar? Then welcome to the club! My own mother had been there with me and my sister, and now I am in the same boat, and like my mom before me am coming with tricks to just cut the chore short, we all have, because in the back of our mind, we all so the picture perfect kid’s room in a magazine or a book, and we want our kiddos to have that same serene cheerful colourful heaven, free of clutter and crayons marking…but then of course in the back of our mind we all know that no clutter is not gelling with kids.

Ah I remember the days I was on the other side of the fence, a kid, who didn’t see why my mom would scream at my collection of muddy rocks, and the entire crate of Lego turned upside down in the middle of the room, I didn’t get why my mom would grin manically while vacuuming the wall to wall carpet in our room whenever she heard a cling-cling sound of a plastic object going up the pipe, all I could see back then was a monstrous tyrant marching in with a garbage bag threatening to throw everything if we didn’t have the place clean in 15 minutes (and no she was not kidding, we once thought she was bluffing only for her to put all the stuff we didn’t clean in a bag and later donate it to charity).
Now of course as a mother, I know why she was grinning while vacuuming, because the cling-cling sound was most likely a tiny Lego piece, or a Barbie shoe, or one of these Kinder Joy plastic crappy toy parts that was getting everywhere….cling-cling up the vacuum cleaner pipe meant “Yay one less piece of crap to step on” The problem with plastic crap is that you throw one out, you have 10 that comes in to replace it! See told you it’s a never-ending task.

Moms of toddlers have both the advantage and the disadvantage of being alone at work, toddlers wont help cleaning, but then that means you can also pick a moment while they are in school to break the garbage bag and purge without them screaming and whining about you throwing stuff away, truth be told they might not even remember all the crappy stuff they have. The other problem is that older kids can somehow understand to some extent that, toys need not to migrate in the whole house, they also get that balls, get stored with balls, and building blocks with…well you know…building blocks. Toddler don’t get it, and don’t care.
My parents solved the issue when my Aunt lent them a huge old wooden travel trunk  of yesteryears in which all my toys would fit, along with both me and my cousin when he came visiting, that’s how big that thing was. This was easy then, the toys would come out in the day, my mom would throw them back in the trunk at night. they had to give it back though, but then they had hopes my sister and I would have a bit more of a clear perception of the advantage of a tidy room…ahem! That’s when they found stackable plastic crate at the hardware store to sort out the Lego from the Barbie Dolls…but that was pretty much a fail, each crate ended up containing a mix of everything, and we used to turn them all upside down to find the right thing.
Ishi is no better with her toys (why would she, kids are kids), so every day I end up with mess everywhere. I have no toy trunk, but I have boxes and a big funky basket  to toss it all in.
Today I was yet again cleaning her room, while she was in school, threw away a lot of tiny stuff she never plays with, stored away bigger nicer toys she is too old for or never play with, got rid of everything broken and thanked myself that I actually refuse to buy toys just for the sake of it, in fact I told my mom to bring books only with her last time she visited, no toys, she has enough of that, that like every kids she play with once and then ignore. Even with a rather conservative filter on toys, there is still more than she actually plays with. The thing I consider before buying a toy is how it can be played with, typically toddlers like to explore and be creative, they like to pretend, and they like freedom. A toy as educative as the manufacturer claims it to be will be shunned if all it does is say “red” when you press the red button and drive you parent batty with loud noise, annoying music and crappy voice. But worse are the pretend play toys that talk and come with dozen of accessories that will end up everywhere…yes we have one or two of these and YES they drive me crazy, and Of COURSE I regret buying them, and the only reason I’m not making them disappear is that Ishi still plays with them on occasion, and I spent enough money to make me feel guilty about getting rid of it, but I am no longer a rookie, so I don’t buy them anymore, and more important I don’t go ballistic each time a plastic cookie disappear…Good riddance!

What my daughter can’t get enough of are art supplies, that I’ll never really buy too many of, plus they encourage creativity. She loves carrying purses around the flat, which gave me a perfect opportunity to offload my old wallets and all these promotional freebie pouch and handbags on her, she loves them, they cost me nothing, talk about win-win. Ditto with jewellery, I have enough old bead necklaces and even old bangles set she can play with.
Books you can’t get enough books, there is no restriction on books in my home, I’m a bookworm myself and if my daughter turns out to be one, it won’t be the most harmful thing in the world. She also loves water toys to play in her plastic tub or in the shower with…they encourage fun play and discoveries…that I don’t mind having around. Same with balls, because we can play indoor and outdoor with them. A few stuffed animals don;t hurt either, they are easily washable contrary to these stupid battery operated toys, and she loves to snuggle them, pretend feed them and play Doctor with them. And that is about it, that’s what she loves, and that is what I shall keep around above anything else. The plastic crap still comes in, and it comes out after a while too, I don’t think anybody is completely immune to trinkets accumulation.

Meanwhile I’ll continue my Sisyphean task: I clean, she trashes, I clean she trashes…she’ll grow older, but I’ll still pick bone with the hygiene level of her room, and she will still want it untidy in rebellion, so I’ll clean and she’ll yell at me for doing it and then trash again…until she’ll go to college and I’ll then wonder what to do of that sudden freedom from not having to pick up fight about her mess…which thinking of it is as daunting to think about as the thought of having to pick up toys from everywhere in a couple of hours. 


  1. shatranj3:02 PM

    Even as I read this, I am telling my 5 y.o. son to clean up the mess in the front room, and quietly laughing as I read.  He has spread train tracks and other related paraphernalia all around.  You're right about it being an endless task.  And about the vacuum cleaner!  But really I dread those chink chink noises, because the kids will come back to me "amma, where's that piece for that lego set?" GRRRR!

  2.  Really there is no escape, the moment we have kids we will go down that lane LOL
    One evening my daughter decided to take every single toys and lay them al carefully piece by piece, including the books, in a pattern that made sens just to her...in the living room! It was all over the place in that room, and of course it was 8pm, mama was tired already, I think that day I just dumped everything in her funky basket and the laundry basket to sort out the next day :)


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