God has seen fit to bless me with two children. I have a 26 year old daughter and a 24 year old son. They share the same set of parents…and very little else. In many ways the two of them are polar opposites, God’s peculiar brand of humor, as if to say, “Watch what amazingly unique people I can create from such unremarkable ingredients!” In perhaps no corner of life are the two of them any more wildly different than in the area of organization. Kaitlin is “the cloud” to Patrick’s overstuffed filing cabinet. For example…
A couple of years ago, Pam and I drove down to Nashville to help Patrick pack up all of his worldly belongings into a U-Haul truck from Belmont University to Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. He assured us in the week leading up to the big day that he had been getting everything ready so moving day would be “no big deal.” What we found upon our arrival still gives me nightmares to this day. There was Patrick, standing amongst the most unruly collection of boxes, bags and plastic bins imaginable. In one particularly frightening box there was a large frying pan with a sliver of dried food still attached, an unfolded tuxedo vest, two boxes of tea, a spatula and a handful of sheet music, the very definition of “miscellaneous.”
Contrast this with our experience two weeks ago when we made the same trip to move Kaitlin home after two years of grad school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We walked in to her bedroom and there were boxes taped up and labeled with permanent marker, “Coffee Mugs”, “Non-perishable kitchen supplies.” A hearty group of able bodied and similarly focused friends had been recruited for the task of packing the U-haul, among them an engineer with an amazing gift for geometry who made packing the truck a breeze. Once home it took three rooms upstairs to contain all of Kaitlin’s stuff, but within the week she had single handedly gone through it all, designating this pile for Goodwill, that for the dump. Imagining Patrick navigating a similar challenge is practically unthinkable. He simply lacks the linear thinking skills necessary to organize and execute such a thing. He would open a box to empty it only to be distracted by a notation on some random piece of sheet music found inside, then run to his keyboard to get to the bottom of it. Two hours later, the next item in the box would be discovered.
So, you can imagine the level of guilt that my wife had that we were not able to be in New Jersey yesterday for Patrick’s move from first year apartment to second year rental home. There was a U-haul involved, and the dismantling and reassembly of desks and beds, and she wasn’t there to help him plow through it all. So imagine our shock when he sends us a picture of his room last night at 10:30. There was his corner desk with his $5000 worth of musical technology up and running. There was his bed in the foreground…MADE. There was a picture hung on the wall, and white Christmas lights strung along the ceiling. We could actually see the floor! He had done it, he had successfully moved and organized his new home without his mother’s guiding hand. Although I have my suspicions about just how much of this he did without some sort of assistance, probably from at least one female friend, still, it was a very impressive picture, more proof that he is closer than ever to becoming an actual grownup.