October 20, 2005

If you visit, don't look behind the couch

My boys are pretty good about doing their chores, but they have - how shall I say this? Different standards than I do. Very different standards. Boy in Black considers the kitchen clean if the dishwasher is loaded and running, and the counters wiped clean. Dirty pots and pans piled in the sink are apparently invisible to him. Shaggy Hair Boy chose the chore of cleaning the bathroom with the idea, I think, that he was choosing the smallest and easiest room, and was horrified to discover that he was expected to clean the toilet. ("Why would anyone do that?") With-a-Why considers the living room clean if he's vacuumed the very middle of the room. Stuff piled on the piano or on hearth or in the corner by the drum set is all just part of the normal decor and not to be bothered with.

I am pretty relaxed about the way the house looks, but one thing drives me crazy. I hate it when the kids toss stuff behind the couch. At any given time, you can pull the couch away from the wall and find all kinds of junk behind it. Even though it's not visible to anyone else, I can't stand the thought of it.

Shaggy Hair is the worst culprit. If a bunch of us are all settled in the living room, he won't ever get up to walk to the garbage can in the kitchen. He won't take the risk of losing his spot on the comfy couch. We have room only for one couch and one chair so comfy places to sit are always in demand. Instead of moving from where he is sitting, Shaggy Hair will crumple a homework paper and toss it over the top of the couch.

"Shaggy Hair!" I will scream on cue. And always, he gives me a look of surprised innocence. Did I honestly expect him to move from his comfy spot? And risk losing the spot to a sibling or extra?

"I have a great idea," he said one day, "I am going to invent a garbage can that fits right behind the couch. So that you can throw anything there - popsicle sticks, broken pencils, whatever."

He tossed his long curls and gave a serious look from his freckled face, "Wouldn't that be a great invention?"

"I don't know," said Film Guy from across the room, "I think you might have trouble marketing it to anyone outside this family."

11 comments:

Rev Dr Mom said...

LOL!! He might be able to market it to my 14yo if it would work between the bed and the wall (his favorite trash repository!)

bitchphd said...

Dear Shaggy Hair:

Your mother is right. Throwing garbage behind the couch is unacceptable. Either announce that you are throwing something out and want your seat back (perhaps you can negotiate with your mother to back you up on this, in exchange for no longer throwing garbage behind the couch), or accept that losing your seat on the couch is the acceptable sacrifice for having a large, warm, and loving family.

bitchphd said...

Oh, and PS: If you don't throw garbage behind the couch and the other kids do, then you get the satisfying benefit of occupying the moral high ground. I'm sure you know what to do with that.

timna said...

our family would take you up on the garbage can behind the sofa. i'm still grading and my mother's due to get here in about 12 hours. can't stop to clean if I want to go away for the weekend...

Jane Dark said...

my roommates would certainly be good customers for that invention.

good luck grading, timna. i am sitting up and thinking about how to render blake criticism intelligible and sexy.

Yankee T said...

Nothing if not inventive, that Shaggy Hair Boy.

listmaker said...

Sign me up for one of those trash cans. Rebellious Teenager is currently stashing trash under the couch and computer desk.

ccw said...

This is too funny! I love that his thoughts involve inventions to allow him to continue throwing trash behind the couch, rather than one to keep his place on the couch, make the kitchen trash come to him, etc.

Phantom Scribbler said...

As long as Shaggy Hair is being inventive, perhaps he can help us. We live in an old house, and the floors are not level. In the main room, the lowest point on the floor -- the place to which all balls, cars, trains, markers, crayons, and sippy cups eventually gather -- is the farthest corner under the couch. There isn't enough room to yank the couch out to retrieve those items, which must go sadly on, abandoned there for all eternity.

What would Shaggy Hair suggest? For awhile we had a line of cardboard boxes (dubbed the Maginot Line) under the couch to prevent items from rolling all the way back. But that, like its namesake, proved sadly permeable.

Help us, o teenagers! You're our only hope!

kathy a said...

good invention! would shaggy hair also empty the behind-the-couch can?

i love these family stories, including the "extras" and the decor of your living room.

p.s. -- don't ever look behind the couch cushions or under beds. or in drawers. or closets.

Oliver said...

What a great idea! 3 please. I mean... what a lazy boy... bad bad bad.