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March 25, 2020

Boys and Dirt: Does Parenting Even Matter?

If you think perhaps you should splurge on the lovely white shag rug at Pier One for your cozy girl bedroom, and you live with two boys under 12, don’t do it. In one short year it will be matted into a flat pelt, a not-so-lovely shade of brown. Not even a Dyson will bring it back to it’s original fluffiness.

You can ask your boys not to wear shoes in your room and to use their own bathroom, but the truth is, they want to be near you with their filthy little selves. You will find them coated in dirt from the chicken coop and playing “mole” under the quilt your late mother handmade, at least without their shoes on, stopping occasionally from their hilarity to wipe their noses on your pillow shams. They will remember to always put the seat down, but you will find boogers wiped on the wall next to the throne, and when you lock yourself in there for your own business the toilet will be clogged from poops so giant you want to bring the little cherubs to the doctor. They simply didn’t want to stop playing to take the time…

The truth is, once they pass 6, they’re only just getting into their prime filthiness. Before, they were just a little grimy, and you would sweetly wipe the chocolate from their faces, hands, tablecloths and throw their shirt in the laundry. Once they become old enough to begin fending for themselves, they struggle to find the laundry basket, hide their clean clothes behind the closet door and tromp through the house in muddy snow boots. When you ask them to clean their rooms, they toss everything onto the opposite side of the bed so when you peer in, you mistakenly think they’ve followed a direction for once in their sweet little lives. They stand grinning in front of the pile of dirty glasses and plates that you begged them not to bring into their rooms during the sleepover, and when in six months you flip their mattress you find evidence of that missing bag of Halloween candy.

You allow them to get ferrets and teach them how to clean the litter pan, which they do expertly, shoveling half of the mess into the diaper genie while the other half gets sprinkled across the rug they will later roll around on, making a fort for King Doggy with all of your couch cushions. This also is a fine way of determining how much of their healthy snack was eaten and how much was stashed into the couch.

As mothers, we are disillusioned into thinking that we will be the ones who teach our little boys how to clean up after themselves. We think this after the string of boyfriends we’ve allowed into our homes because we don’t really want to use the disgusting bathroom at their place, or even touch the sink faucet handles. We mistakenly think that it was the product of poor mothering and cut our eyes when we meet the tired woman. Having children has made me a much more compassionate daughter-in-law. The thing is, those guys who DO have clean toilets, also have more hair products lining their shower stall than I do. One visit to their pristine white porcelain and they are immediately scratched off the list. It’s a complete catch-22 that leaves me laughing at myself as I vacuum gravel from the corners of my nightly oasis.

The dark green rugs are fine, and the shag helps hide even the largest of bits.

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Bettina Freese  |  Contribution: 5,295