I can’t say I’ve never been a slob, because small children are universally and thoroughly disgusting, and I used to be a small child.
But I’ve been fastidiously neat since about 1975. I was never the kid whose parents rode his ass all the time about keeping his room clean. I always knew where my coat was.
As a teenager, my music was always alphabetized by artist, and further organized by order of release. My class notebooks were color-coded. (History was yellow, English was blue, science was green, and math was red.) As an adult, the living room to my apartment always looked exactly the same when I came home from work, because I had put everything back in its place. You want to know what kind of mileage I got for a tank of gas two years ago? No problem; let me check my log. My first PDA magnified and dramatically enabled my tendencies. (I’d give up my cell phone before I’d give up my PDA.) You get the idea.
More than one person has half-kiddingly commented that I might have OCD. You know what? I just might. But it’s never affected my ability to lead a fruitful and productive life, so I’m not interested in a professional opinion on the subject. Just put “Died With Undiagnosed OCD” on my headstone. (Except I’m not going to have a headstone.)
Anyway, when Lea was pregnant with Nathan, several of my slobbier friends (you know who you are) delighted in informing me that I was going to have to relax my neatness standards a lot. “All kids are slobs,” they’d say, chuckling and doing a poor job of concealing their enjoyment. They were right. I knew they were right.
I’m putting up with a much messier living room and kitchen as a matter of course. It has nothing to do with Lea’s housekeeping skills, apathy on either of our parts, or anything of the sort. It has to do with the fact that young children are walking, talking entropy bombs. Most of the time, if no personal injury or property damage is occurring, then I’m good. (Sometimes I’m even all right with the latter, as long as it’s reversible. I don’t intend to systematically patch the drywall until 2010 at the very earliest.)
So far, almost six years into parenthood, my organizational appetites have been effectively sated by what I like to call “pockets of order.” I can’t do much about the living room floor consistently, but I’ve got the top of my dresser:
That’s watches to the right, the weather station in the center, and my dresser valet to the left, containing all manner of pocketables (wallet, handkerchief, pens, pocket knives, and the like). The terms “enpocket” and “depocket” are in my vocabulary. What of it?
Here is the driver drawer of my tool chest:
I’m trying to head off chaos here as the boys grow by building each of them a tool chest of their own. My dad had (maybe still has) a killer #2 Phillips stubby red-handled screwdriver that I was eternally borrowing (and not returning). It was a great tool, so he was missing it all the time, naturally. I hope to bypass that kind of thing with my plan. As the boys wish to use tools, we’ll have father-son moments at Home Depot or Sears, talking about what to look for in a tool, how to safely use it, and the like. And they’ll get another drop in each of their respective personal tool chests, courtesy Dad.
You know you’re dying to know what my fuel economy was like two years ago, as mentioned above:
I see that at that time I was even taking the extra step of noting what I paid for each tank, as well. (My truck has almost 97,000 miles on it now, by the way.)
My pockets of order have worked well for me so far. Perhaps one day even all of these will be invaded, and I’ll be reduced to enjoying the hierarchy of directories on my computer, or delighting in the a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place philosophy in force in my daily driver’s glove compartment.
But I’m delighted to report that if I were going to snap, it probably would have happened by now.
Portable and scalable affections are a blessing.
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