June 23, 2008

The Tidy Gene: Does It Exist & Where Can I Get One?

I would be posting pictures for you right now if I could. And I could be posting pictures right now if the cable that leads from my camera to my computer would show up. However, since I rarely put things where they belong and, in fact, many things in our house don't even have places where they belong (the cable does) I can't find it.

That's the bad thing about being messy. You can't find things when you need them. I wrote about being messy here last year, quoting the New York Times article, Saying Yes to Mess, by Penelope Green: "Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts." 

But, in the end does it really matter if I'm cooler, nicer, or a better parent than the next person if I can't find the things I need to live my life!? Maybe not. 

And how does my high tolerance for clutter (how's that for a positive spin?!) affect Jerry? How much of a person's personal habits are genetic and how much are learned? Jerry's got a 50/50 chance of being reasonably tidy if it's genetics because he's just as likely to have received Warren's "neat freak" genes as he is my "complete and utter chaos" genes. But Jerry spends most of his time with me. I'm setting the primary example. And it's not a very tidy one.

If you could see Jerry's playroom (and I'd post a photo if only--well, you know) you'd say he takes after me--no doubt. Let me describe it for you. Okay, I'm sitting in the doorway now. To my right are overflowing boxes (I think those might be mine), Lego train pieces are scattered across the floor, a plastic bin with hot wheels tracks is on top of a bean bag chair. There are two desks--one for painting and one for writing--neither of which has any room for either of those activities. To my left is a plastic basket (that's mine) with stuff left over from--hey! There's my camera cable! Yippee! I found it! Okay, I'm going to post some pictures of his playroom. Brace yourselves.

So did he get my genes or is he following my example? By not being orderly myself and not requiring a certain amount of order from Jerry, am I setting him up for a lifetime of lost camera cables and keys? Or am I accepting him for who he is? And if I could bring myself to, say, help him clean his playroom each night before bed, would that start a habit that he would carry into adulthood or would it just make our evenings stressful? My own mother certainly did her best to instill those habits in me, but apparently it was a wasted effort.

What's a messy mother to do? 

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