He Likes Lists.

I went into Shane’s room to get his library books – which were somewhere beneath a pile of rubble. I couldn’t get his CD books because there were CDs scattered everywhere. There was money all over the floor – in piles, but all over the place. His bed wasn’t made – although the covers were haphazardly pulled up – and there were toys, books and stuffed animals absolutely everywhere. The room looked like Hurricane Matthew had been inside the house.

Shane has had virtually no reaction to my pleas for him to keep his room clean. But he likes lists, particularly numbered ones. So I wrote the following:



The bed is not made, not even a little. The stuffed animals are everywhere. There is money all over the floor. The CDs are not put away – none of them! – and there are books everywhere. There are magic tricks and toys and hats and coins and STUFF EVERYWHERE.


Perhaps you will understand better with a TOP 10 list:

10. We can FIND things after we put them away.

9. Our stuff stays nice for years, instead of minutes.

8. Stuff we borrow (from friends or from the library) can be returned in good condition.

7. When someone comes over, or sees the room, we are not embarrassed by it.

6. When someone tries to walk in the room, they can.

5. A neat room makes your life a little happier when you see it.

4. Your parents will stop nagging you to clean.

3. You can show off the stuff you want to display – like your photography.

2. Your room won’t smell bad.

1.  We want pests – like roaches and mice – to live outside, not in our house.


The next step will be to take away video games if you don’t keep your room clean.

Please don’t make me take that next step.


Then I closed his door, taped up the sign, and walked away.

Later, somehow, Shane cleaned the whole mess in less than 15 minutes.

It took me longer than that to write the letter.

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