The Cleaning Book
March 21, 2011

So, this umm, friend of mine told me this story about a friend's stay-at-home mom. Seems that Donna's mom was determined to have a clean house. This was so that Donna's mom wouldn't feel as guilty for chain-smoking in the house with two asthmatic kids.

She bought books on how to clean more effectively. There was a book entitled Do I Dust or Vacuum First?, Clutter's Last Stand, Clutter Free! and last, but not least, Is There Life After Housework?

Now Donna was no slouch of a teen. She did the chores she was given about as well as any other teen - pretty much picked up her stuff, cleaned her room, did the dishes and other assorted chores. But her mom had this issue with control. So, at 15, Donna actually asked her mom to teach her to do laundry. She'd heard all the horror stories of mixing wrong things together and ruining clothes, and she didn't want that to happen to her. So her mom essentially did all the sorting and just showed her how to turn on their washer. Just the once. Never let her near the machine again. (Despite the fact that Donna, in fact, had not wrecked anything.)

So one morning around the age of 15, she walks into the kitchen and her mother gathered her and her younger brother up and said:

"Before you do anything else today, you have to do your chores."

Ummm. What chores? They'd already done all their usual things.

Their mother proceeded to pull out The Cleaning Book.

The Cleaning Book was a large 2" or 3" binder. It was filled with thick sheet protectors - the slots were perhaps 1.5" high by maybe 3" across. Each of these slots had a notecard which had been cut down to size. A single chore was written on each one and they were colour-coded with a highlighter.

The coding system was thus: what to clean daily, twice a week, weekly, every 2 weeks, monthly, every 3 months, every 6 months, every year.

Their mother handed them this confetti and suddenly instituted, without warning, Saturday Morning Chores. And expected it to off without complaint.

The chores included things like unscrewing the heating/cooling vent covers and cleaning them in the sink, scrubbing baseboards, cleaning off the lightswitch plates - and the lightswitch plate covers. (Think "plastic wrap" for the wall around the lightswitch. And I only wish - I mean and Donna only wishes she was kidding.) And there were the usual chores of dusting and cleaning the ceiling fan and such as well.

But the chore that about did them all in was when Donna's mother handed her the Black & Decker scrubber and a bottle of some insane bleachy chemical thing and told her to scrub her parents' shower grout. She used the scrubber. She used the chemicals. She used a lot of elbow grease until that little motor just about burned up under the force. But every time Donna asked if that was good enough, her mother decided some spot or another was not yet white enough.

And didn't Donna want to do a good job?

So Donna shut the bathroom door and sprayed the ever-living crap outta that shower with the bleachy-chemicaly stuff and got right back down on her hands and knees and leaned with all her force, trying to scrub imaginary "darkish" spots out of the grout.

Luckily for Donna, her mom did come check on her before she passed out from the fumes.

Also luckily for Donna, the children's constant teasing and complaints about The Cleaning Book meant that "Chore Saturday," like most things in that house, only lasted a few months. Their mother gave in to the pressure and they went back to their normal chores.

Except every time they had to clean the baseboards, Donna strongly suspected that The Cleaning Book was merely hidden away from them rather than held aloft like the shining commandments of a clean home.

Posted by Red Monkey at March 21, 2011 7:38 PM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | Struggles | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Daisy said: hard would it be to get a copy of said cleaning binder? Just...wondering......for a friend.

March 21, 2011 8:30 PM


J.D.M. said:

Haha. Nice story. Maybe I need to borrow this Cleaning Book for...erm...(as Daisy said)...a friend.

April 1, 2011 11:30 AM
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