For his birthday, my youngest asked for a bigger bed. Turning 12, becoming a pre-teen, this seemed like a reasonable request. It was time for a big boy bed. I kept saying, “We redecorating Palmer’s room. He’s finally getting a big boy bed.” I don’t know why I kept calling it that. You would think it would embarrass him. It didn’t. He just laughed.
Every step along the redecorating way I asked for his input. When I asked how he would like to arrange the furniture, he grabbed a marker and a piece of purple construction paper and drew out his design. At one point he told me that he wanted to paint the walls black and have a black and turquoise comforter. That’s what you get when you ask for a 12-year old’s input.
I love creating happy spaces for my boys. I love decorating their rooms and seeing them take ownership requesting this and that. Both boys take pride in their bedrooms and do a pretty good job of keeping their rooms clean. Other than having to make their beds, there wasn’t anything else I really had to do before taking the pictures for this post.
Oh, making beds. I love a well-made bed. I’ve taught and retaught my boys how to make their beds over the years. I’ve carefully shown them how to fold back the comforters and expertly fluff the pillows before placing them just so. And no matter how many times I’ve shown them (and it’s been many) they never, ever make it right. Yes, I realize that it is only my version of the right way to make a bed, but it’s a pretty damn good version. Mom’s way is always the best way.
Truth: the boys suck when it comes to making their beds. It’s a Freeman home requirement, one of their chores, but it never gets done. For a while, I was riding them about it, but I finally gave up. Instead, I just started making them myself. Why? Because when I walk by their rooms 10 times a day, I like seeing them made. I like the neatness and the order. An unmade bed makes my home feel messy, chaotic. Does that sound…extreme. Perhaps. Don’t judge. I can’t help it.
The irony is that this is the complete opposite of our parenting style. We are “Figure It Out, Do It Yourself” parents. We don’t believe in hand-holding, hovering, or any kind of helicoptering. When I hear, “Mom, I don’t know how to…” our response is always, “Figure it out.” Sometimes they do. Sometimes they struggle. Sometimes we have to give in and help a little. But for the most part, they do a great job of figuring it out eventually. We are HUGE believers in not doing for them what they can do for themselves. Except when it comes to making their beds. Apparently, I have my limits. I’m weird that way.
The other day I asked them both if they noticed that the Bed Making Fairy has been visiting their bedrooms every day. The replied that they indeed had noticed and were very appreciative of that very beautiful fairy (my adjective, not theirs). I asked if they liked coming home from school every to a made bed. They agreed that they did.
Now, this is the point in the story where you assume that I launched into an authoritative speech about how they needed to start making their own beds. That my “Do It Yourself” philosophy would kick into gear. But no, that is not what happened. I didn’t say a word. Why? Because that’s not part of my master plan.
You see, I’m convinced that one of the reasons that I’m slightly obsessed with keeping a home clean and clear of clutter is because that’s the way that I grew up. My mother always kept a very clean home during the years that she had outside help and even the years that she didn’t. I believe that I keep a clean home now because that’s what I grew up with. That’s how I lived. That was my expectation. And the minute I left my home to live in the dorms my freshman year in college, I took that expectation with me. And it has never left.
While my boys are still under my roof, I really don’t care if they make their beds. Yes, I want their beds made, but I want them done a certain way and I’m tired of them not doing it. So I’ll do it. I’ll save us all the nagging and frustration and just do it. What I hope will happen is that when they leave, when they go to college, they will have an expectation of cleanliness much like I did. An expectation that their bed should be made every day. That maybe, just maybe, this expectation will cause them to make their own beds every day.
Or maybe it won’t.
Let’s face it. Parenting is a crap shoot no matter what we do.
In the meantime, the Bed Making Fairy will continue to show up. She will happily make the beds because it makes her happy. She’s weird that way.