Not Speaking the Same Language

by Caroline on March 14, 2012

Sometimes when I tell Bubbles or M-bug to do something, the result is so far from the original instruction that I think they must be speaking a different language than I am. I’m sure this is an issue that most parents have with their kids, but I think that it is especially challenging for kids with ADHD.

Bubbles really wants her ears pierced. She’s 11½, but I’ve always felt that pierced ears are a privilege and a responsibility to be earned (thanks, Mom), and up to this point have not allowed it. When she asks, “When can I get my ears pierced?” I always answer, “When you can keep your room clean.”

Bubbles' Room, 2005.

My idea of clean. Bubbles' room in 2005, before she had all the "stuff."

Now, there’s clean, and there’s clean. I’ll admit that when I say clean, I really mean straight. I cannot stand clutter everywhere. However, I try hard to make sure that my standard is attainable. I’m not expecting ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ here. I just want laundry in the hamper, toys in their bins, band-aid trash in the trash can (don’t ask), bed made (again, not military standards, just … made), and dresser and desk reasonably cleaned off.

Most kids don’t like to clean, but Bubbles has always tried hard to please, and her issue is that she truly can not remember what she is doing from one moment to the next. Unless it’s playing, drawing, or Nintendo DS, it’s gone. Outta here. Fffffttttttt!

We’re blessed enough (and sacrifice elsewhere in our budget enough, I suppose) to be able to have a friend with a home cleaning business come to my house once a month for a couple of hours. She and her assistant were coming later today, so this morning I sent Bubbles upstairs to finish straightening her room, which she started doing last night.

Bubbles:  What do I have to do?

Me:  You know. Just clean up your clothes. Make your bed, and get pillows and stuffed animals off the floor. Just normal.

Big mistake number one.  “Normal” for me is not necessarily “normal” for her. Note to self: be very clear with instructions.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

GmaG March 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm

It might be helpful to make a visual list of basic steps to cleaning their rooms, based on each girls particular habits. For example: 1. deal with all clothes, dirty –to the laundry; clean–fold and put in drawer or hang in closet. 1. deal with all toys–etc. Try to keep it very basic so that all things fit in one category or another. It probably would help if it were actually a printed out list they could see each time. Simple is best–maybe even word pictures for M-bug.


Caroline March 15, 2012 at 1:21 pm

I’m working on that now, and will post about it later! 🙂


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