The Dirty Room Affair

(November 15, 2017)

When we left off from our last post, our 5-year-old protagonist was being forced to clean her entire room by herself by her evil mother.  Or, from another perspective, our mother-protagonist had gotten herself between a rock and a hard place by promising her evil, messy 5-year-old daughter that they wouldn’t leave San Jose del Cabo until her room was clean.  As a parent, it’s critical to follow through when you tell a child a consequence, otherwise the kid learns you’re usually bluffing, and starts to simply tune you out.  The mistake I often make is giving the child a consequence that’s at least as bad for me – if not worse – than it is for her.  After a week in the bright lights of Cabo San Lucas, I was desperate to get to the next secret, secluded anchorage and discover its treasures and wonders.  But, I’d just gotten myself stuck here, in San Jose del Cabo, until Ellie finished cleaning her room.  Her actually getting it clean was a near impossibility.

Over the last several months, I had helped her clean her room from a similar state at least 3 times.  It usually took about two hours with my help, and more when the whining about it was particularly intense.  Each time, we made clear that she had to clean her room every single morning to keep it from getting that messy again.  And each morning, we reminded her she had to clean her room, and that she didn’t get any electronics until she did.  Unfortunately, during the chaos of the Baja Ha-Ha, and then the recovery in Cabo, we weren’t as strict about it as we needed to be.  So, her cozy little bedroom turned into a disaster of tears, angst, and fighting.

She always comes up with excuses.  Actually, it’s a bit amusing – she’s the best at excuses.  Some of her favorites include: It’s too hard; I don’t want to do it alone; I haven’t had breakfast yet; I haven’t finished my schoolwork yet (that’s a favorite on days I tell her her only schoolwork is to clean her room); I’m hungry; I don’t know how; and it’s too hot.  She pulled out each and every one of those excuses that day.  So, rather than responding to the excuses, I talked her through it, step-by-step.  First, bring all your clothes out of your room and into the salon, and fold them out here when there’s room.  After about an hour of reminding her what she was supposed to be doing to keep her on task, she accomplished that.  And boy, was she proud.  She folded everything neatly, and organized it all into piles of pajamas, swimsuits, shirts, pants, dresses, etc.  She couldn’t move on until she’d shown everyone in a boat what a great job she’d done.

Then, make your bed.  Another hour of reminding.  Focusing on the task at hand is not Ellie’s strong suit.  She buzzes about like a honeybee, flitting to whatever bright and shiny flower appears in her periphery.  It’s a fabulous, joyous way to live, and usually a delight to be around – but it’s not conducive to getting your room clean.

After a while, I sat in the cockpit working on writing projects, and she was working on her floor.  She’d cleaned up the clothes, so the floor was now a mess of books and toys.  She didn’t know where to put most of it (despite the fact that she and I had discussed a place for everything the last three times we cleaned her room together), so she started to cry.  I told her to put things in their homes, and if she didn’t know where the home was, stick it out her window into the cockpit where I was sitting, and I’d help her find a home for it.

This turned out to be a great game, for about an hour.  She loved putting things out the window and getting a response, like it was some kind of magic show.  It got us about halfway through her floor cleaning.

Unfortunately, an hour later, the game had lost its luster, and she still had another two inches of floor mess to go.  As always, we tried to break it down.  First, find all your doll clothes and put them in the bag.  Now, find all your legos and put them in a bag.

By the time she finished those easy things, it was nearly dinner time.  We’d planned to go to Chips & More again, and I was getting hungry.  I couldn’t wait another three hours for the room to be done, and for a 5-year-old, she’d worked pretty hard most of the day.  So, while she was upstairs getting distracted (again), I headed into her room and powered through the last bit of cleaning.  About 30 minutes later, her room was pristine – a place for everything, and everything in its place.  It was more beautiful than a brand new Porsche parked in your own driveway on a sunny day.  It was a treat to look at.

But, I was hungry, so as soon as that room was clean, we headed out for a second time to Chips & More for dinner.  But, although I still felt like we were in too big of a city, the reality is that San Jose del Cabo is really a fairly small town, with typical Mexican small-town infrastructure; that is to say, they had infrastructure of any kind on a good day.  Apparently, today was not a good day.  The power in town had been out all day.  So, most of the restaurants were closed.  We were disappointed to discover this included Chips & More.

So, we wandered around the marina neighborhood for a bit trying to find another restaurant that was open.  We tried several, and we were excited to find that El Marinero Borracho actually had staff inside.  Maybe they could help us become marineros borrachos, as was our goal for the evening.  But, they were only serving drinks, and although that would have gotten us borracho, it didn’t make for a great dinner.  Defeated, we headed back to the marina.

We gave Taliesin Rose the news, and immediately began pooling resources to put together a small, two-boat potluck.  We grilled chicken, and had spaghetti, and everything came together wonderfully.  After dinner, the girls cemented their friendship over a movie and pretending games, and the adults bonded over rum.  Although we’d spent several evenings with Taliesin Rose in the last week or so, things came together that night, and we knew we’d found new lifelong friends and cruising buddies.  The day ended with happily tired kids and happily tired adults and new levels of friendship all around.  We discussed our future plans, and how we’d like to continue cruising together as much as possible, and decided to leave together for Los Frailes in the morning.


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