Saturday, June 13, 2015

Purge, Baby, Purge! Swim, Baby, Swim!

So, I realized by Thursday that as the week progressed, my house had become cluttered. No, that's putting it too delicately. My house looked like a friggin' dump. Random stuff on every flat surface - the few square inches that weren't covered with something - mail, magazines, stuff I bought and never put away - were covered in dust.

I woke up this morning in full Samuel L. Jackson mode: I HAVE HAD IT WITH THIS MOTHERFUCKING CLUTTER IN MY MOTHERFUCKING HOUSE! Everybody strap in. I'm about to fill some fucking garbage bags.

I went into purge mode. It's kinda shocking how much stuff I have hauled around with me over the years, but never actually use and will probably never get around to using. An inexpensive sewing machine. Manuals for software I no longer need. Blank CDs - they've gone the way of the cassette deck in the last few years. Clothes I don't wear, more blankets than there are beds. It's ridiculous. I can't even explain how I manage to have so many things I don't need and never use after TWO moves!

It's because I hate to throw things out. I'm ashamed when I calculate the money I wasted on things I had every intention of using, but never did. I convince myself that I'll use the thing again SOMEDAY - like the (cheap) sewing machine I've been hauling around for years, that I used three or four times, six or eight years ago. Tomorrow, it's getting donated to charity, along with clothes that have been hanging in the closet, like-new shoes I wore once that pinched, and on and on.

I have no intention of becoming a minimalist. I think owning enough sheets, towels, dishes, etc., to create a pleasant space for entertaining guests is part of being a functional grownup. It doesn't even all have to match, but unlike a fairly famous blogger who apparently makes a living writing about living with nothing, I don't think it's sane, rational or grownup to have to borrow the basics (plates, pots and pans) if you have even one guest in your minimalist world.

That said, if you've been hauling stuff around for years, swearing to yourself that you'll use it SOMEDAY, you might want call yourself on your own bullshit. I don't sew. I don't have any real desire to sew. Why do I still own a sewing machine? Because I had some vague, whimsical idea that I'd like to learn, a decade ago...and oh, a decade later, I still haven't. Buh-bye, sewing machine. Be free, go to a happy life where someone will actually use you.

Figuring out your point of "just enough" is tricky, and needs to be revisited regularly. In my purging of a small, cheap file cabinet that has doubled as an ugly nightstand in my unfortunate office/guest room, I realized that I've been keeping this tiny, 20 year old particleboard filing cabinet on wheels for YEARS, when it would be the work of a trip to Target and a couple of hours of assembly time to replace it with a cute, cheap, actual side table to serve as a nightstand. It would look a thousand times better and hold far less random clutter.

I'm still determined to convert my office/craproom into a decorated space that can function as a guest room. It has one bookcase too many, and much STUFF I just don't need to own, that needs to be set free.

So, around noon, about three hours into the Great Purge, my daughter called. Miss D wanted to go swimming at Grandma's. She wanted to go swimming at Grandma's without Mom, because Mom actually makes her swim. This kid is a riot. She's three and a half now, which is prime swimming age for a Florida child. Her mom was swimming laps in our backyard pool at three, underwater, like a tiny dolphin. It is a source of great frustration for my daughter that Delaney hasn't taken to swimming the way she did. Delaney likes it, but she's inherently stubborn and not easily persuaded. She didn't want MOM to go to the pool; she wanted Grandma to take her, because she thinks Grandma is a softy who won't force her to swim. Wrong-o, kid. This is Florida, where nearly every outdoor activity in summer involves water. Swimming is a life or death safety issue, and learning to swim is NOT optional.

So, Mom and I played with her, all the while pushing her to try to swim a little. She's got a good strong kick, she understands exactly what she's supposed to do, but she doesn't believe she can do it. There's a stash of pool noodles at the pool, so we borrowed a couple and showed her how they would support her weight. She didn't quite believe it. She'd extend her body full length in the water, holding our arms, and do a really nice, strong kick, but wouldn't let go. Finally Mom just sort of tricked her, and with the pool noodle under Delaney's arms and supporting her, she peeled Delaney's clingy hands off and told her to swim to the steps. She did, laughing all the way. She still didn't seem to believe that she'd just moved herself through the water without holding onto us, and it really does work as we've been telling her.

Clearly, this was a fluke, because she refused to try it again. She argued, joked, and never stopped talking, but refused to repeat this swimming on her own nonsense.

After much persuasion and arguing and clinging, we resorted to teasing her and calling her "chicken." I know that sounds awful, but she was laughing and agreeing, making clucking noises, and not at all wounded. Mom got her to swim again, and she paddled to the steps, while laughing and clucking all the way, "Buk-buk-buk-buk!" This child is a riot, and she will swim without the pool noodle soon. She's capable, and knows her nervousness is silly. I'd far rather have her be nervous than over-confident, until she feels secure in her skills, but my dear little smart, chatty granddaughter, learning to swim is NOT optional, and Grandma ain't gonna let up on you until you master it.

Tomorrow: more purging. My goal: make the garbage men swear on Monday.


Anonymous said...

Swimming is an essential life skill, along with being able to judge 'non-pool' water conditions. Keep up the tough love,

Gae, in Callala Bay

Catherine said...

Yup, this is non-negotiable. She will learn to swim, and she will be very proud of herself.

Brenda said...

My garbage men will be swearing at me---I had a new couch delivered Wednesday, and the old one has been sitting out on the driveway in the rain, waiting for my city trash pick-up on Tuesday.

I can identify with Miss D---I had to take swimming lessons when I was a kid because my aunt babysat me and all of her kids went. I had to take them again when I was in highs school to pass PE. I have hated the water all of my life, and being forced to take swimming lessons never changed that. Maybe I was a cat in another life.

Catherine said...

Delaney doesn't hate the water - she LOVES the pool and the beach! If she truly hated it and didn't want anything to do with it, that would be one thing, but you can't beg to go to the pool and then refuse to swim. And of course here, with backyard pools in so many yards (including at Nana's) and water everywhere, it's a non-negotiable safety issue.