Before anyone has a chance to get sad about their children being away at college, there is the job of cleaning the detritus they leave behind. It’s a messy job and certainly takes a toll on the emotion you may want to feel. If the child was still there, you might be yelling at them now.
Reclaiming the space is no easy task. I’m not even totally qualified to write about this yet because some of mine are still in the process of leaving and the one home still has friends coming through, but fewer. Each day, more leave town.
With my husband’s help, I dug in today and tried to reclaim some guest room space. It wasn't pretty.
Never neat and pristine in the best of times, the bedroom of a teen who knows he or she will not be around to suffer the wrath is not a pretty sight. I know a lot of people whose children have left in the last few days and none of them have said, “My child’s room was left in perfect, move-in condition,” or, “My son vacuumed and dusted on his way out so I wouldn't have to do it.”
No. It’s more like, “I cannot even walk in my son's room. I can’t see the floor,” or, “My daughter messed up her bedroom so much down the stretch that she moved into the guest room and now they are both awful,” and so forth.
So, what’s in there? I thought it would be easier, that they would take most of the stuff with them, but not true. The kindergarten field day trophy is left behind as is quite a bit of half-done math homework from senior year.
At some point in the process, my husband said, “Don’t throw out any socks without matches. I’m finding all the missing socks,” but I didn't dare ask where.
We found quite a few things that belong to other people, some of whom live in our house and some who do not, and things he may want at school, but was too overwhelmed to find in the mess.
I do wonder, with a garbage pail in the room, why I am finding so many toothpicks, candy wrappers and tags from new clothing.
Will these slobs do better job in their dorms, when the small space is all they have? They cannot leave the squalor behind for the comfort of the rest of the house, but many people have warned me not to expect much.
The day they move in is the best it will ever be, people tell me. Someone else told me today that they hardly ever change the sheets or wash towels.
Some even more slovenly years could be ahead, or not. I am still in the midst of this process at home. At least, for now, we can see the floor of one bedroom again.