Monday, September 28, 2009

How to Clean a Teenager's Closet

Rules of Toss IT or Keep IT
  1. Sit at least 5 feet away from your teenager. This way she can't reach out to grab whatever you're holding, but should be able to identify it if it's important to her.
  2. If it's a picture of you that she drew when she was 4 and you go "awwwww," Keep IT.
  3. If it's a pile of 25 notes from a boy three boyfriends back, Toss IT.
  4. If it's a school picture of someone she can't identify in 5 seconds, Toss IT.
  5. If it's a giant pink sparkly ring and her eyes light up and she looks really sweet like she did before she became a teenager, Keep IT. This ring is one of the last connecting threads to the humanity she lost when she became a fledgling.
  6. If it's an opened package of food from some science experiment creature she was supposed to grow in a plastic dish under a lamp, say ewwwww for reinforcement, and Toss IT.
  7. If she has saved every notebook she has ever written in, find the one with her algebra homework, open it, and hold it up so that she can react badly to the sight of equations and beg you to toss it. She won't even care to look in the rest of the notebooks before you toss them too.
  8. Unless you keep a barrel full of beads for that magical day when the bead fairy comes down and fixes all the broken jewelry in your house so that the Bead King will be pleased when he visits and won't eat your youngest child as a sacrifice, TOSS THEM ALL.
  9. This is a good time to pull out her baby footprints, first hair cut, and most importantly her bellybutton--just to show her what is worth saving and what is just useless trash.
  10. All batteries can go. Who saves dead batteries? For that matter, who saves unidentifiable plastic pieces, bread crusts, and soda cans?
  11. Don't give her TOO MUCH shit because you KNOW what's lurking in your own closet.
  12. This is supposed to be a cosmic freeing joyful experience so hum cheerfully while you sort through piles of art, stickers, and pieces of cloth. You might feel an obsessive need to untangle the yarn remnants, but think about how much your time is really worth and how cheap yarn is. Toss IT.
  13. You might find some things from your own childhood amongst her treasures, as she has searched through your closet when you're at work and scarfed anything of interest. She wants to feel connected to your childhood as well because you were once a geeky little packrat too and it gives her hope to see how mature and organized you are now.
  14. Try your best to fit all her treasures into one big box that you can store outside her room. Give her empty containers to start filling again. This way you never have to resort the stuff you've already sorted through 28 times since she was born.
  15. This gives you time to do the same thing with her younger sister, who saw what you were doing and asked that you help her sort through her stuff too. Maybe it was the maddening cheerful humming that hypnotized her into thinking all this cleaning was fun. Or maybe it really is. Cleaning out the old crap leaves space for the new. And look, her room is already messy again!

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