Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Bailout

Well, I did it. While it didn't come with a $700 billion price tag, there may be cost involved, and I'm watching closely to see.

I bailed out my seven year-old daughter and cleaned her room for her. I warned her for weeks that there was a problem, sometimes rationally, sometimes not so much. I gave her suggestions on how to tackle the job, and sometimes even ordered her to pick up all of one thing, or to pick one area and just clean that. I told her it was really getting bad, and threatened to go in there one day myself with a big garbage bag. Her room was declared off-limits for friends, even some privileges were lost, until she could make some headway. No matter what tack I took, she could not handle the enormity of the nightmare her room had become.

Lily's room could only be described as a disaster area. It was mess on top of mess: accumulated works of art in progress; paintings left to dry, little itty bits of paper, home-made board games, and "worksheets" for Lily's students to complete, or waiting to be graded; clothes--clean, dirty, and in between; just plain old garbage; discarded toys; crayons, pencils, glittery make-up; books, and countless containers of all shapes and sizes with the hope of purpose and usefulness ahead of them.... It took me two solid hours, and one filled-to-the-rim 13-gallon trash bag to get to the bottom of it all.

There's a lot that could be said about how different little girls are from little boys, and how the parenting techniques have to be tweaked in order to be most effective. And there's a lot to be said about how I may have become lax with my youngest, and I need to be more engaged, and get focused here.

Generally speaking, I am opposed to bailouts. I'm a big believer in real life consequences. But Lily was facing a crisis, I mean, the place was a fire hazard! Some of the blame could be mine, letting her have too much stuff in there to begin with. What was the real point in all of it? Did I want her to learn how to clean a room, or how to take care of her stuff? In the end, to me the important part is to help her grow a healthy attitude about stuff. What we acquire, keep, care for, let go of, etc. She couldn't possibly get that with the mountain of mess before her. If it took me two hours, how long would it take her (even with my help!)? I didn't want the lessons I spoke to her about stewardship to get lost in the action and huge amount of time spent cleaning. I decided that I needed to step in and give her a clean slate, and clear boundaries, so that she could start over and learn the lessons about being a good steward of her belongings and blessings.

I wasn't sure what her reaction would be when she came home to find her rug visible. (and lots of things just plain gone!) To my surprise, she was totally relieved and grateful. So far, it has stayed clean for over a week. And I've spent time with Lily, showing her how little effort is required to put things away properly, and she is buying into to joy of having a clean room, everything in its place.

Is there a tie-in to our government and that financial mess/bailout/rescue? Maybe. Maybe the terrible thing isn't the bailout itself, but would be in missing the opportunities to follow it up with a watchful eye, and capturing teachable moments.

1 comment:

Alan and Judy said...

Having experienced Lily's room and trying to get it all in order, I could visualize your dilemma and the bailout. I thought of another tie-in, however. Isn't this "rescue" and clean slate a lot like what happens to us at salvation? And isn't it equally important to go on from there to learn how to be good stewards of our new life in Christ? And isn't God gracious in helping us learn how to enjoy our "clean room"?