Tuesday, April 15, 2003

To each his clutter

Spring cleaning has hit our house, but amazingly (all right, all right -- not so amazingly) it's not me who's doing the tidying up. The bringer of order to chaos is, of all people, my son, who out of the blue has decided to bag up the enormous pile of freebie car magazines that's taken over a corner of his room and move them out for recycling. He's been collecting these magazines for years -- from the supermarket racks, from the place we get bagels on Sunday, from the outdoor plastic receptacles by the fast-food joint we go to sometimes, from kind-hearted grown-ups who know he loves the things -- and any suggestion on my part that he move some old ones out before moving some new ones in has met with general hysteria. They're his treasures! He knows and loves each and every one! Even the ones at the very bottom of the pile that he hasn't looked at in months! He couldn't bear to part with them!

Except today, he did. Out of the blue, he started emerging from his room with bags of mags, instructing his dad to take them to the recycling pile at once. When I gushed with pride over this hard thing he was doing, he told me he'd decided that he should clear them out once a year. Are you spring cleaning? I asked. Yes! he replied, and let's hope that such a worthwhile activity will now extend to the bunches of bunches of shopping bags he's collected, and the bags and bags of receipts, and all those millions of tiny items that make it impossible to walk across his room in the dark. Just as long as he doesn't get any ideas about going after my personal clutter. Those catalogs teetering in a stack by the window, the three-hundred or so read or half-read parenting books piled precariously atop my bookcase, the shoes that never quite make it to the closet, the crates of children's school papers crammed under the bed -- hey, they're my treasures! I couldn't bear to part with them!

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