Sweating the Small Stuff
I’m a control freak. I’ve held my hands up to that one for a while now. Difficult not to when I need to know exactly how many seconds my son has taken to brush his teeth; when the mere thought of letting anyone else touch my computer breaks me out in a cold sweat; when the world seems out of kilter if milk isn’t added to the teacup after the teabag but before boiling water. Be that as it may, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect certain standards. And things are slipping around here. Oh, yes…things are slipping badly.
The traditional toilet seat whinge is just too obvious so I won’t waste my breath on that. Either you’re a man and you know exactly what I’m talking about, or you’ve lived with a man…and you know exactly what I’m talking about.
No, the felonies in our house are far more subtle. A cup of tea is made but the milk is left out on the counter with no lid on! Or worse, the lid is perched on top of the milk bottle but not screwed down.
Why? Why would anyone go to the effort of picking up the milk bottle lid, placing it on top of the bottle and then not screw the sodding thing down? I have been known to grab an abandoned milk bottle in mid stride on my way through the kitchen to the fridge, muttering oaths as I swipe it purposefully off the counter…by its top…and spend the next ten minutes cursing fluently whilst mopping up creamy rivers.
Toothpaste tubes. There’s another one. Teeth have been brushed, toothbrushes are back in the pot but the toothpaste is left on the side of the sink. Of the toothpaste top there is no sign. And this is not the worst. Not by a long shot. They’ve started using the new tube of toothpaste before the old one is finished. I knew I should have hidden the new one until the old one was completely used up but I became careless. Complacent. Damned rookie mistake. But the old tube was crumpled and sticky, hard and thin, with crusty dried bits around the lid and the new one looked so plump and smooth and clean and squeezy and tempting . I can see how the glamour of the new tube might have overwhelmed them.
But it’s just – not – right.
Cupboard doors are opened and not closed again. And I’m not just talking about left ajar. I mean left wide open. Like they just ceased to exist once the chocolate digestives had been snaffled. And what were chocolate biscuits doing in the cupboard anyway? They should be in the fridge!
I am a control freak.
Empty cardboard toilet roll tubes reside permanently on the holder, gathering dust while new toilet rolls perch precariously on top. The new one falls off every time it’s used but it never occurs to anyone to remove the empty cardboard roll, chuck it in the bin and put the new one securely in its place.
And the bin! Ah, yes, the bin. My family believes ours is magic, that it has powers of capacity better suited to the Tardis; at least, they seem determined to cram unlimited volumes of rubbish ever tighter into its depths. Will it ever be full? Not if they have to empty it, it won’t. The lid of the bin hasn’t swung for four days; it’s stuck in a half open, lopsided yawn, threatening to fall off but it doesn’t. If it actually did fall off someone would have to empty it, but it teeters on the edge. A bit of brute strength squeezes yet another item of rubbish inside. Perhaps it really is a Tardis.
I do tell myself to chill out sometimes. My daughter’s headmaster once shocked me with the advice, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” This came after I became paranoid that she’d get a reputation for being a “problem child” after having a few huffs and sulks with her teacher.
Life would be so much less frustrating if I did chill out more. Do you think those frown lines on my forehead would go into reverse if the sight of the battlefield that is my son’s bedroom didn’t send me into a spin? Could I “chill” myself young and pretty again if I could ignore the dirty socks and pants that are thrown near the washing basket but never into it? Would the house fall apart if I wasn’t running things? Could I bear not to be in charge?
Not bloody likely.