Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ahh . . . the ol' "Brown Box" treatment, ay?

Well, this past weekend found me hip-deep in my precious daughter's room, wading through immeasurable and unimaginable junk, crap, clothes, toys, dolls, MORE crap, and various and sundry flotsam and jetsam.

In other words, it was Spring Cleaning time.

Along with the challenges my daughter already faces with her (slight, but ability-affecting) brain injury, my daughter has also inherited my penchant for hoarding. She struggles mightily with throwing things away . . . ANYTHING at all. To her, everything has value, even things that are obviously trash to anyone else (things like boxes that toys or dolls or shoes are packaged in, or pretty tissue paper, or school papers that have been long-ago graded and returned to her.)

Her love of Hello Kitty is legend. At any given time, her room appears to be the aftermath of a bomb that has gone off right in the middle of the Sanrio factory. She has an equal love for Cabbage Patch dolls, Build-A-Bear animals, American Girl dolls (even the knockoffs), and Webkins. I admit that I have played a hand in this . . . no one enjoys a trip to Build-A-Bear more than I.

I saw tears of worry begin to well up in her eyes the minute I announced to her that we were going to clean her room. She equates "clean" with "give her dolls away", and she usually dissolves into a complete meltdown.

I had to clean it, but I hate (HATE) upsetting her. She is such a sweet child, and so attached to her things. But . . . drastic times call for drastic measures.

Rather than do what I usually do (bitch, shovel, argue with her over each thing that I think is expendable), I switched things up a bit. Taking a cue from "Clean Sweep", I entered her room with several large, brown packing boxes and with NO discretion at all, I swept up armfuls of crap and dumped the offending stuff into these boxes, with absolutely no rhyme or reason. I continued in this fashion until there was nothing left in her room except the furniture and curtains. Every surface was clean, and I could see her purple carpet for the first time in months. We ended up with better than 9 boxes full out in the hall.

I decided that one of the biggest challenges in her room was storage space, so I ordered 2 large white bookshelves, each about 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide, giving the room an additional 60 feet of shelving space. Who knew what a transformation and miracle this would bring about . . .

Once the new shelves were in place, and the bed was nicely made and the floor was vacuumed, I had my daughter begin the arduous process of visiting the boxes out in the hall and bringing items in that she absolutely wanted to keep. Of course, this ended up being mostly her dolls, which were arranged by kind on the new shelves. Even I was flabbergasted to see just how many she had. She had no idea that her collection was as vast as it is.

When she was done, every inch of the 60 feet of shelving was full. Every . . . single . . . . inch. There were also lots of leftover junk in the hall that she didn't bother to rescue, filling 2 large black garbage bags and 2 big brown boxes. The good part was that it seemed absolutely painless to her to leave all of that behind. Choosing what to keep turned out to be much easier for her than choosing what to give up.

We cycled her clothing through the laundry and sorted the clean items into her drawers, and paired her shoes in her now-clean closet. I bought her some lavender scented room freshener, and fluffed her curtains and pillows.

The transformation was amazing.

With all of the clutter gone, my girl's eyes and attention seem to be able to focus on the things that she really loves. She has spent more time in her room in the last few days than she has spent in the last several months. She can now recline in her purple butterfly chair, talk on her Hello Kitty phone, line up her Cabbage Patches on her bed for new ponytails, and dress and redress her American Girl dolls in endless outfits (we made a doll closet too).

Even the boy finds his way in there, although he says he doesn't like all the "girly" stuff in there, he does admire the cleanliness and organization.

His room is next. I've already ordered a new dresser and nightstand for him.

I'll post some pictures soon.

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