Concerned my granddaughter will be messy like my daughter
I baby-sit my 2-year-old granddaughter at her house one day a week while my daughter works from home. Their living room floor is always filled with toys and books. Nothing ever is put away. It was always a struggle when my daughter was young to get her to tidy up her room. Her husband is the same way, although his parents and my husband and I are neat.
When I baby-sit, I tidy up a bit so I don’t trip over toys. My concern is that my granddaughter sees such a mess every day. Is there anything I should do so she does not become messy herself? Or is messiness an inborn trait? My efforts with my daughter obviously failed. Or is this none of my business?
I share your dismay about mess; it’s distracting and stressful. I’m especially concerned that it’s a safety hazard for you, because a fall when you’re responsible for a child is particularly dangerous.
Also, I don’t know if you’re paid to baby-sit, but I’ll guess you aren’t, in which case an already inconsiderate mess becomes particularly so.
On the other hand: In our present culture, it’s not just in parents’ imaginations that it’s not possible to meet every expectation in the allotment of hours we have. And by expectation I mean not only the actual ones of food, shelter and love, but also the fuzzier, oft-unspoken expectations of joining things, running around to things, policing screens, raising readers, teaching manners, shaping values, promoting social skills, minding the planet, reading food labels, staying up-to-date on current childrearing trends so as not to get a faceful of “well-meaning” public corrections, monitoring product recalls and occasionally showing up rested and ready for work.
It’s hard. And so it’s hard not to be sympathetic to a parent who decides in her own home to cut the to-do list one line above “pick up all the toys.”
You see her slovenly tendencies as lifelong, and you may be right, but it could be that a frenetic life pace interrupted what would have been a natural evolution of a messy child into a more organized adult. Who knows.
Regardless. When you have conflicting, equally defensible arguments, the answer often lies in the overlap in the Venn diagram they create.
In this case, there’s enough. I see three circles: (1) You need clear floors. (2) Your daughter and son-in-law are in the kiddie throes and, like anyone in their stage of life, could use a hand, not judgments. (3) You can rightly promote positive values when you’re in charge of your granddaughter’s care.
And here’s where the circles overlap: Have your granddaughter help you clean up, in small breaks throughout the day, “to help Mommy and Daddy.” The floors get cleared; the message gets taught; the judginess of “I’m teaching you to clean” gets replaced with “I’m teaching you to give back to your loved ones and community.” Win-win-win. Just don’t get hung up on results, in case it turns out that slobs are born vs. made.
My divorce is final, I am finally free of my abuser. Now that I am not worried he will blow up the property settlement, I am free to tell people we are no longer together, and I find myself wanting to tell them why.
The truth was, he was controlling through verbal and emotional abuse. At the time I left him, he was escalating into physical abuse and cheating on me. People keep asking me why I would want to leave such a wonderful guy … but he’s not a wonderful guy. As handsome and charming as he is in public, he was horrible at home.
My life is far more peaceful now, and I’m not walking on eggshells all the time trying not to upset someone who was going to be upset no matter what I did. But what do I say? I don’t want to overshare, but I am truly sick of hearing what a wonderful guy I divorced.
— Abuse Survivor
Abusers are the true culprits, of course — but what is with people who “keep asking me why”? That is just so out of bounds. And obtuse.
When people divorce, assume they had their reasons.
You’re welcome to use that, if it helps. “Assume I had my reasons.”
Or: “He is indeed wonderful, on the outside.”
You’re also welcome not to. You owe no explanations. Any suggestions herein are to help you find the best way to help yourself.
Which means you’re also welcome to say, “He was verbally, emotionally, then physically abusive, and cheated on me.” Because it’s your story and you get to tell it.
Since you’re dealing with people who cross lines and can’t find their social “off” switches, though, decide beforehand how much more of their interest you care to invite. “Why do you ask?” can sort the genuinely concerned — i.e., the people you talk to thoughtfully — from the nosies and judgies. “That’s private” can briskly shut those down.