Ummm.. My Kid Was Invited To Join The School’s ‘Disorganized’ Club

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One mentioned she may have ADD, but I think that is a completely wrong assessment. (Not that I’m a doctor, but neither is the mother who threw out that suggestion.) My daughter is just…spacey. That’s the best word I can think of to describe her and the reason why she’s disorganized. Plus, she sees how disorganized I am, so we’re pretty much screwed.

But I LOVE my spacey, scattered-brained, daughter. I would also like my spacey daughter (and my spacey self) to be more organized. Unfortunately, I’m now forty, and I don’t believe you can always teach an old dog new tricks. The thing about organizing is that you really have to work at it, and keep up with it. But many mothers, and children, it seems, just can’t do this.

One mother wrote me that she’s a Grade Six teacher and out of her entire class, only three are organized. So, obviously, we’re kind of…normal?

The difference, however, with a child being disorganized and a parent being disorganized is that we understand how our disorganized mind works. No one is allowed to touch my desk because, yes, although it’s totally a mess, that mess makes sense to me.

My daughter is a very busy girl. I can’t blame her for being disorganized, not just because we have so much on our plate, but also because I really do think that the poor girl just inherited my disorganized genes.

But, somehow, I’ve made it to 40, no one has died because of my lack of organization, and, although I’m positive that at times in my life it would be easier to be organized (Where is my vehicle ownership paper? ARGH!) I’ve survived quite successfully. I rather her be disorganized than mean. I rather her be disorganized than rude. I rather her be disorganized than a hateful person.

As for the Organizational Club, my daughter may be “required” to attend, which is good, but mostly bad. Will she even remember what day the Organizational Club takes place or where? Will we be able to get there, if we’re running late, because disorganized mommy can’t find her fucking keys again? And can you be “booted out” of an Organizational Club because you’re not improving?

And, it’s just ADDING another thing to stress about in our already disorganized life! Someone pointed out to me an Einstein quote: “If a cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind, then what, pray tell, does an empty desk mean?” Exactly. Keep your desk messy, my love. I don’t care. It’s who you are, my little spacey child. I do think the teacher should maybe start an Organizational Club for moms. We’re just as disorganized as our children, after all!

(Image: Solomiya Trylovska/shutterstock)

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  1. CMJ

    March 12, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Maybe it will actually help her….

  2. pixie

    March 12, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I was horrendously disorganized as a kid. I somehow managed to not lose much, but it was still a struggle for me to keep all my papers in the same place. I’ve put in a ton of effort to improve and it’s mostly working.

    Some suggestions that might work are to have a big family calendar in a communal area, like the kitchen where EVERYTHING gets written down as soon as it’s scheduled and put smaller calendars in your daughter’s room and on your desk, that way it’s always in your face. She can even write down when tests are and when assignments are due. Encouraging your daughter to write all her homework down in an organizer/day planner type thing every day. Keep a bowl or something near the front door to put keys in, or have key hooks. Put emphasis on everyone putting things back exactly where they found them and put things in the same spot every time so you know where to find them. Prioritize things in order of importance. There are a lot of things that can be done, and I wouldn’t write off the “organizational club” just yet.

    It’s hard trying to put in a conscious effort to be organized, but it does get easier as time goes on. I know when I’m getting stressed because my life becomes disorganized again, but i know I need to get my shit together and keep myself organized.

    • CMJ

      March 12, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Yep, I am super disorganized but I actually try to make a concerted effort to organize certain aspects of my life – my work, my bills, etc. What people don’t realize is that while disorganization might not “kill” them or others, it does impact lives in a fairly large way.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Definitely. I made sure to make all my bills be sent to my email (less paper=less clutter), I NEED to be constantly harassed by my calendar to get shit done, my parents got me a mini-filing cabinet a number of years ago for any papers I do manage to accumulate (things that come with furniture, appliances, etc). Even my assignments and papers for school I’ll take the time to organize how I’m going to go about before I seriously start. If I don’t, it takes twice as long in the editing stage to connect the rambling, disorganized thoughts.

    • JLH1986

      March 12, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      We recommend the family calendar and that to help everyone remain calm, each family member gets a certain pen or marker color, that way Susie only needs to look at the pink on the calendar v. seeing 4 things written on that day and freaking out. IF I can get parents/families to do this, it’s been successful. I then have them transfer the calendar to a calendar that hangs in Susie’s room (that she chose) and then on say Sunday everything for that week is written out. it’s not easy but making the time to help them put it on the calendar gives dad/Susie a chance to talk about it. So everyone knows there is a math test on Tuesday (not a spelling test). Sometimes hearing it and seeing it help. But again it requires the parents to have some sort of organization and time management and sometimes that’s not possible.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      Yeah, the colour coordinating thing is a great recommendation. The calendar thing is actually something my parents did/do and something I found helped me. With my mom travelling and my extracurriculars, it was nice to see that I’d have to miss swimming on Tuesday because I have to go to the doctor and Saturday it’s my dad taking me to martial arts because my mom is on a business trip in the Caribbean and won’t be back for three weeks. Otherwise I’d probably be wandering around not knowing what was going on.

  3. Rosa

    March 12, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I was a super disorganized child and didn’t really change until I got to college when I realized that the job I wanted required me to be organized. It’s really changed my life for the better. My car is still a mess but everything else isnt.

  4. wmdkitty

    March 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Oddly enough, ADD in girls tends to manifest as the child being “spacey”. Whatever comes of it, it might be worth having her evaluated.

    • Taxes Make Kittens Cry

      March 12, 2014 at 4:15 pm

      Shawna, have you been evaluated yet?

    • wmdkitty

      March 12, 2014 at 7:51 pm

      Not that it’s any of your business, but yes. I was evaluated as a child. And yes, I have ADD. What’s your fucking problem with me, anyway?

    • brebay

      March 12, 2014 at 4:43 pm

      exactly. You’re not doing her any favors by not at least having her evaluated. In boys it manifests more in activity, in girls more in spacing out.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 5:03 pm

      It could also be she isn’t having her needs met in regards to being challenged. I had that problem for a long time in school, but I’m pretty sure my family doctor determined I didn’t have ADD (or autism, which my 3rd grade teacher wanted me to be tested for, but that’s a whole other story…). But I would agree getting tested might be a good idea.

    • rrlo

      March 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      My husband has ADD. And from what I understand the key is that ADD is disruptive towards ones day to day life without proper intervention.

    • brebay

      March 12, 2014 at 6:56 pm

      But a smart kid may not have an academic disruption in elementary school, because the work is so easy. You can space out and still get the work done. It’s when the material gets harder and you start having more long-term projects that it really affects them.

    • rrlo

      March 12, 2014 at 7:24 pm

      Yeah, maybe – I haven’t done much reading on this topic.
      I would personally hesitate to have my child evaluated unless I thought that the spaciness or whatever was getting in the way of his success or happiness.

    • Armchair Observer

      March 12, 2014 at 8:48 pm

      Crying over studying for the wrong test (if it really happened, it is RE) seems to indicate some impact on success and happiness.

    • rebecca eckler

      March 13, 2014 at 12:06 am

      …or frustration?

    • Armchair Observer

      March 13, 2014 at 8:28 am

      Could be, but frustration is the opposite of happiness.

    • Rebecca Eckler

      March 13, 2014 at 11:24 am

      True. True!

    • rrlo

      March 13, 2014 at 11:03 am

      Sure. It could very well be. Or not. Impossible to tell based on this one article.

  5. Heather

    March 12, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I think, and it comes from my own experience, so nobody start getting their panties in a bunch, that disorganization is from laziness. As the author said, it takes a LOT of work to be and stay organized. Of course, everything else becomes easier if you stay organized, but you have to do the work in the first place to get there. For instance, It’s easiest to just toss the groceries in the fridge when you get home from the store and then dig through to find the ingredients you need to make meals. But, this often leads to not realizing things have expired, you’re out of things you thought you had, you buy doubles of things you DO have because you didn’t see it hiding behind that other thing, etc. It makes it harder to cook a meal for your family when the ingredients aren’t easily accessible and organized in a way that makes sense for the way you use them. If you take the extra few minutes to organize the groceries as you put them away, you will save time later on.

    A problem I have is that I absolutely LOVE to organize things. Sort papers, set up systems, etc. But I have no follow-through. I’ll be organized for a week, then one day I am tired, or rushed, or just revert to my lazy self and I don’t take the extra step it takes to keep the organization, and it all seems to go downhill from there.

    • K.

      March 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Would you get your panties in a bunch if I said that I think people who place a huge premium on filing and being uber-organized are probably people who don’t have much going on in their lives?

      (I don’t, actually believe that–I believe it has to do with a different way of valuing and conceiving time–but I do bristle when people moralize organization)

    • Heather

      March 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm

      I didn’t moralize anything. I didn’t say people who are more organized are better. I ENJOY organizing, but if you read my whole comment, you’ll see that I am actually not very organized, because I am inherently lazy!

    • K.

      March 12, 2014 at 4:58 pm

      I did read the whole comment.

      It’s hard to read: “I think, and it comes from my own experience, so nobody start getting their panties in a bunch, that disorganization is from laziness.” and not interpret that as calling people who are disorganized, lazy. Which, despite your claims otherwise, is never a particularly coveted quality in people.

      And then, calling yourself lazy followed by an explanation about how you address this…deficiency? fault? problem? (whatever trait it is, it’s surely a negative trait in your context–“revert” “go downhill”) is basically to moralize–it’s to say, “I have tendencies to be x, but I better myself by doing y.”

    • Heather

      March 12, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      It is negative for me to not be organized because I ENJOY organizing, not because it is inherently bad and I didn’t say or imply that it was. To revert is to go back. You can dye your hair red then revert back to your natural color. Not saying the natural color was worse. Just in the past. I didn’t say I was lazy and that I try to fix it by being organized. I said I enjoy organizing, but am also lazy, and those things don’t go hand-in-hand easily!

      I think lazy people can be some of the most innovative people I’ve ever known! Someone who doesn’t want to go through the extra time or work invented vacuums, microwaves, CARS! Someone thought “gAWWWD, there has to be an easier way to do this” and created something.

    • K.

      March 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      This is reading like you’re backtracking on what was essentially a judgmental post.

      But fine–you say you’re not moralizing and you’re lazy but not ashamed of it and you love lazy people and that lazy people are innovative–great. This discussion doesn’t have much to do with the article anyway. I’ll move on.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 4:32 pm

      I don’t think being disorganized necessarily comes from laziness, I’ve actually heard in various places that being disorganized is connected with intelligence (not that smart people can’t be lazy or are naturally organized; I’m lazy as hell and I think I’m pretty intelligent, and I have some very smart friends who have always been organized, though I do know more who are disorganized). I will agree, however, that not putting in a conscious effort to be organized can be lazy.
      When I revert back to being disorganized, it’s not because I’m being lazy, it’s because I’m getting over stressed and the state of my living space begins to reflect my internal chaos.

    • Heather

      March 12, 2014 at 4:37 pm

      I think you are putting too much power in the word “lazy” and giving it meaning that I don’t think it has. To me, lazy simply means preferring to do things the easiest way possible. And in the moment, sometimes disorganization is the easiest (tossing your coat on the chair, instead of hanging it on the hook. Tossing the papers on the table instead of filing them in the right places. Just putting the groceries away haphazardly instead of putting things in the right spots.) That isn’t a value statement, it is just a factual statement. I’m not saying lazy is bad, just lazy.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 4:56 pm

      For some people though, myself included, it’s not just an issue of just wanting to do the easiest thing possible. The concept of doing the simple thing never crossed my mind. There’s not a logical reason I can think of as to why I, personally, was/am disorganized, but it’s never been about taking the easiest way to do something.

    • Heather

      March 12, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      Because it’s habit. I’m not saying you are making a conscious decision to do it. But if you’ve done it that way your whole life, it will take a LOOOOOOOT of effort to break that habit and to turn it into something else. So, when you try to get organized, you might do the same thing I tend to do. You get excited about the new system, then have a great few days/weeks/etc. Then one time you aren’t thinking about it because other things are going on and you revert back to the easier option, because the “organized” way to do things hasn’t become a habit.

      Again, it isn’t bad. It just is. Does being organized see like it’s easier? Sure. But it’s not like being unorganized is the end of the world.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Both my parents work hard to be organized and are a lot more organized than me. From a young age they tried to get me to do certain things, like put things in the same spot all the time and what have you. I would do it when they told me to, but if they didn’t, I would put things in completely random spots. I’m talking young like 4 and 5 years old. What my parents tried to get me to do should have become habits from repetition, but never did. Things like hanging up my coat are second nature, but a lot of other things? Nope.

      As you are, I am also speaking from my own experience. And no, being disorganized isn’t the end of the world, but it can and does impact my school work, especially my productivity, which is a pretty big deal when I have a month to finish 2 papers and complete and defend my thesis proposal.

    • Heather

      March 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm

      By bad, I mean morally bad, not functionally bad.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      No, it’s definitely not morally bad.

      I’m also not trying to argue with you for the sake of arguing, we’re just two different types of people with different experiences in life. 🙂

    • Cabbie

      March 12, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      I’m not sure how someone can read your original comment and think you were being judgmental by offering a theory as to why people are disorganized (based on your own experience AS YOU SAID). I’m totally disorganized, why? Because I’m lazy. Do I think I’m immoral because of this? No! It is what it is. Being disorganized, or lazy, does not make someone a bad person. I’m not sure what the defensiveness is all about. If my disorganization is affecting your life, by all means, judge away, but more than likely it’s not. Therefore I read no judgment into your comment.

  6. K.

    March 12, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    As a HS teacher, I can tell you that Grade Six is supposed to be about organizing. So are Grades 5, 7 & 8 and most of 9. In fact, pretty much all of middle school is about getting your shit together. So it’s not unusual if only 3 kids are “organized” and most good MS teachers are aware that getting more kids to get their shit together is part of their job.

    This is because studying for the wrong test sucks balls when you are 12; it could suck balls AND jeopardize your GPA and possibly your college aspirations when you’re in my class. And being disorganized as an adult is not a great thing, but you seem like you at least have your shit together enough that you can submit a column in on time and pick up your daughter from school on the right days. Kids who don’t learn how to organize their lives have really difficult adjustments to adulthood and often suffer from lower self-esteem once they transition out of childhood.

    My advice is sure, love your daughter as she is, but try and help her develop better habits. Don’t do stuff for her and DO NOT prevent her from experiencing the consequences of being disorganized (not that you did this, but if you had called your daughter’s teacher and asked if she could take the test on a different day or something, THAT would be a bad move). It usually takes tough lessons in order to change what is ultimately going to be detrimental behavior.

    • brebay

      March 12, 2014 at 4:47 pm

      Yeah, I was all on board with the “Yeah, it’s a mess, but I know where everything is,” until college & grad school and then it was just impossible to play that anymore. Worked for an attorney who had that mentality before I came to law school, and he was forever missing appeals deadlines, which is malpractice. I know a lot of disorganized artists and writers, but honestly, if your daughter wants to anything that involve case management (law, business, medicine, etc.) you’re doing her a disservice by not letting her see another way to do things.

    • K.

      March 12, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      Oh I know–I taught a course specifically for college freshmen for years and the instructors all had meetings where we outlined rather draconian, ironclad laws regarding our courses (late papers were not accepted, pretty much ever; booted from class after 3 absences; etc. etc.) because *we* were all freshmen once and knew that if we didn’t hold the “front line” it was going to be worse once the students were seniors and suddenly realized that they were missing required courses or something.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      A lot of those things should be enforced earlier than first year university/college, too. As it stands in high schools where I grew up, teachers HAVE to accept and grade without docking marks any assignment even if the student hands it in on the last day of school. It was depressing the amount of students who would do that, and grade 12s, too. And the majority of teachers would usually give a window of a week to submit something.

      Me thinks a lot of them (and know for a fact a few of them) were in for a nasty surprise when they began university.

    • Justme

      March 12, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      There is a new education trend that is sweeping through the states that pushes the idea of grading for mastery of content as opposed to grading for behavior. Turning a paper in late and then having points docked because of the tardiness reflects a grade that is based on behavior rather than the child’s knowledge of the subject. This philosophy advocates a drastic upheaval of the current grading system in favor of something that might seem far more lenient in regards to re-testing, zeroes and late papers. Obviously it’s not been well received by many of my teaching friends (mostly of the older generations) but I think…when done in moderation with guidelines and clear expectations…it could actually redirect many of the ways we teach and assess students learning.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      Grading for mastery of content is what is ideal, though it’s also not entirely fair on the teacher to have to do more work when they already have to submit marks, which I understand takes time. It might also not be fair for other students who didn’t get as much time. In university I had profs who, while they did dock marks, they would show the original mark had the assignment been on time and with the late deductions, so it was kind of a combination of the two.

      In moderation with guidelines and clear expectations, yes I can see it being more positive compared to the current system, but as of right now, or at least when I was in high school, it was being abused by the students and they weren’t learning the importance of deadlines (such as in jobs later on in life; teachers have to get marks in by a certain date or there’s repercussions, office workers have to get reports in).

    • Justme

      March 12, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      It’s actually made my life a whole lot easier when it comes to grading because…

      – Along with grading for mastery comes the idea that we only grade assignments that show the TRUE assessment of a child’s learning. Therefore, this naturally leads to more authentic learning experiences and less busy work. Which then turns around and leads to less assignments to be collected and graded during a grading period.

      – When docking late points, many schools have a graduated system where one day late loses 20 points, two days is 30 and so on and so forth. Sometimes it can be really overwhelming to remember exactly when an assignment is due and when a student turned it in so that I can calculate the proper grade deduction. I usually notify students of missing work they can turn in for full credit right before progress reports or the end of the term – I won’t take the work after that point.

      – It keeps the parents at bay (for the most part). Since I don’t take off late points, all my quizzes can be re-taken (different version) for up to a 100 and all tests can be corrected for 1/2 credit of points back…there really isn’t a reason for a student to be failing UNLESS they aren’t taking advantages of the opportunities I set in front of them. Then when parents inquire about their low grades or averages…the responsibility is placed squarely on the shoulders of the student, instead of blaming me for their child’s poor performance.

      This is all the moderation and expectations that I mentioned earlier – there are still deadlines and consequences, but there is plenty of grace because they are kids and therefore they are in the process of learning about responsibility and doing their part to be successful.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      I see that all as reasonable and understandable. And you teach middle school, right? So I see that as especially great for kids in that age range. Like you said, there’s still consequences and deadlines, and it puts responsibility on the kids.

      Unfortunately things weren’t being done like that when I was in high school, it was pretty well a free-for-all and no reminders about missing work, and I have no idea how the deductions were calculated. There actually were grade 12s that I knew, or seniors if you will, planning on going to university, who had no concept of meeting deadlines because they’d never had one enforced or any consequence of missing a deadline.

    • Justme

      March 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Yes, I teach middle school and I have found that the balance I’ve struck this year still allows me to enforce expectations and consequences, but gives kids a little bit of grace and wiggle room because they are still learning how to manage their time, resources and responsibilities.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      It does seem like a good balance, and I wish something like that had been implemented when I was in that age range. I didn’t have a problem getting things in on time, but it probably would have taught me how to manage time more effectively. It also would have taught some of my peers that there are still consequences of not handing things in or handing them in after the deadline, which at 11/12 years old kids are still learning but something that should be learnt by the time they’re 17/18. (I’m not talking absolute perfection and having zero grace or wiggle room, just more than handing everything in on the last day of school and expecting teachers to be able to properly mark it all, which is what happened several times, in grade 12 with 17 and 18 year olds, not 11 year olds)

    • JustaGuest

      March 12, 2014 at 10:34 pm

      Ah, I missed your grade level. I teach college – by that point I think it is reasonable to be working on managing their workload and deadlines (although I make reasonable accommodations – they just can’t turn in homework after I’ve, say, graded it and returned it already.)

    • Justme

      March 12, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      Oh absolutely by college, for sure! I would even say by their junior year of high school – or earlier if they are in AP classes. Our middle school is on the eight period day with two electives and a PE class of some sort, plus any outside of school activities they might have. That is a LOT for some of these kids to manage at 11, 12 or 13. They are often being pulled in several different directions – academics, sports, fine arts, family, friends…it can be very daunting and overwhelming. But I try to tell my kids that all this “busy-ness” is just getting them prepared for real life; so that they can effectively manage their time and keep track of their commitments when they are adults. And as a side note, for whatever reason, the boys always seem to struggle a bit more with the organization and management of deadlines – I think it is something that comes with maturity.

    • JustaGuest

      March 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm

      To be fair, there is also value in learning to meet deadlines, manage you time, etc. a lot if employers want tasks done to a schedule, not just whenever their employee feels like it. And often there are good pedagogical reasons for having assignments due at particular times. (If, e.g., they build on each other.)

    • Justme

      March 12, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      And see below how I still manage to teach responsibility and personal accountability. A lot of the consequences students face through this method of classroom management are natural consequences that have nothing to do with me. Didn’t turn in an assignment? Then I have no evidence of your learning and it is a zero in the grade book. Choose not to take a requiz or complete test corrections? Then your score stays low and your average suffers. And quite frankly, in my experience…if a student chooses not to do an assignment at the time is is assigned, they probably aren’t going to do it two days or two weeks later. Most of the “late” papers I collect were completed on time, but lost in the bottom of a backpack or at the back of a binder.

    • K.

      March 12, 2014 at 11:38 pm

      Oh, I’m not disagreeing with having stop-gap measures for MS kids and I think most good teachers strike a balance between content and behavior-based grading. Most of the teachers I know practice what you do in some way or another–they don’t really fail kids without a lot of warning and a lot of chances to fix things. (And the freshmen I was talking about were college freshmen, not HS)

      I think that part of my response to Rebecca was to express that for one, it’s really not “special” or a personality trait to be spacey and disorganized in the sixth grade. That’s kind of garden-variety–pretty much ALL kids are “disorganized” in sixth grade. That’s why my colleagues are teaching them out to outline, how to take notes, how to pack up their bags, how to keep a binder, so on and so forth. It’s so that by the time they get to HS, we can do things like hand them a semester syllabus and trust that they will have *some* idea of how to plan ahead (we still do a lot of hand-holding with HS students and syllabi, but it’s in preparation for college in which you are often given a syllabus and expected to follow it on your own, without frequent reminders from the prof).

      And second, to recommend that Rebecca see the disorganization stuff as learning process, not an identifying marker, and one that can and should be part of the school experience. Maybe the organization club in itself is not a good idea–it depends on the club and her daughter–but on the whole, I wanted to point out that there is often times a pedagogical basis for a focus on organization in the sixth grade.

    • Justme

      March 12, 2014 at 11:43 pm

      I never disagreed with you.

    • Magrat

      March 12, 2014 at 11:51 pm

      This has good and bad points. It’s good to instill responsible habits, and to show that there are consequences for irresponsibility. On the other hand, you kind of have to ask what your teaching goals are. Is it more important that students master the material or be prepared for the real world? In middle school, maybe more the second one, realistically, but people learn and work at different speeds, so if the material is your top priority, inflexible due dates are not your friends.

    • Justme

      March 12, 2014 at 11:58 pm

      If you notice below…I outline my system a bit more so that both goals are met.

    • Justme

      March 12, 2014 at 9:20 pm

      The freshman teachers at the high school I feed always complain about their students being SO young at the beginning of the year. My thought is…isn’t that their job?! To teach they freshmen to be high schoolers, just like we teach sixth graders how to be middle schoolers and kindergarten teachers (bless them) teach kids how to be in school, period.

    • AP

      March 12, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      I always hated that in school. You’d get to a new grade, and the teacher would say, “This is (7th grade, high school, 12th grade, college) and we have different standards.”

      Well OK, but no one told us the new way to do things. It’s not like you are magically imparted super-secret next year knowledge with your previous year’s report card. If you don’t like the way the previous year’s teachers were doing something, tell the kids on September 1 that you don’t allow XYZ. Don’t hide your expectations hoping to fail them with maniacal cackles on September 26th.

    • Justme

      March 12, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      I don’t fail them with maniacal cackles…more like bottles of wine and a good cry. 😉

    • K.

      March 12, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      I’m spoiled because I teach at a private school that is both MS and HS, so we have the benefit of knowing more or less what the teachers are doing and what to expect with each student–might be different for a HS teacher who is on a separate campus of the MS.

      But yeah–in general, I would hope that I would be the sort of teacher that wouldn’t complain too much about where kids were when they entered my class because what difference would it make anyway? They are where they are. You start where they are.

      (Then again, who am I kidding? I’m a teacher. I’d probably bitch to at least SOMEONE.)

    • rebecca eckler

      March 12, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      I agree with is!

  7. Alex Lee

    March 12, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    *insert ‘I learned it by watching you’ gif*

    Anyway, I wouldn’t count yourself out too quickly. Even learning from mom’s mistakes….is still learning.

    I foresee many happy trips to “The Container Store” for both of you. Good luck.

    • rebecca eckler

      March 12, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      Is a trip to the Container store a good or bad thing? I don’t understand?

    • elle

      March 13, 2014 at 12:06 am

      Ah, Im super sad for you if Canada doesn’t have The Container Store. It’s just an organizational/container store. Like that’s literally all it has. I think Alex Lee was just saying you both could use it as a way to get organized. I really don’t think he meant it as a slam.

    • rebecca eckler

      March 13, 2014 at 12:11 am

      Great! Thanks!

    • Guest

      March 13, 2014 at 10:54 am

      Container store is amazing.

    • Kaili

      March 13, 2014 at 6:55 am

      Omg! That link is like crack to me. Sweet sweet crack. Ever see that 30’Rock episode where Liz’s porn fantasy is an office supply store? This link is my new porn (oops meant to reply to elle)

  8. PsychMama

    March 12, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    ADHD. Both Mom and daughter. Get tested. Get meds. It will help immensely!

    • rebecca eckler

      March 12, 2014 at 11:47 pm

      Hey Doc! What kinds of meds should we take? You obviously are a real doctor, so just give me the real answers. So much quicker to hear it from you. What kind of tests should we get?

    • PsychMama

      March 13, 2014 at 6:00 am

      Wasn’t trying to be snarky. Totally serious. I know you have no way to believe me but I am actually a real doctor. And I have a hubby with ADHD. And a son. So I do think your comment is probably mostly sarcastic, but on the off chance that you are actually curious, I want to give you the scoop. You need to go to a licensed clinical psychologist and get a full evaluation for ADHD (they will know the tests to do). Child psychologist would do testing w/ your daughter. Adults can have it done too with an adult psychologist. Also could be a neuropsychologist. Just depends on where you go. Don’t go right to a psychiatrist or to general practitioner first, as they may just throw meds at you. Get the psych eval so you can see exactly strengths/weaknesses/type, etc. Hubby did testing it about 5 years ago – never knew he had it! And now his life (and ours!) is SO MUCH improved. Once you get eval, they will make rec’s about therapy and/or meds. To be honest, meds are quite helpful of course. But I know that can feel controversial for kids so see what makes sense. I obviously have no details on your (or your daughter’s) actual situation. But the way you describe yourselves in the article, it just seems worth it to get tested. There is no shame in ADHD. I actually feel as though it can be a disservice to children and adults to dismiss their symptoms as just being “disorganized” and not get them the proper support. Hubby was an underachiever all through school b/c of this but had no idea why. His IQ actually tested in the Superior range as an adult! Imagine he different his school experience could have been if he had known and had support! And now his work life is MUCH improved due to meds. Anyway, again, you may have just been being sarcastic and if so, have a good laugh on my account. But if you are even remotely curious, just get tested! It can’t hurt at all (actually can be kind of fun to learn more about yourselves through questionnaires, etc). And you don’t have to actually take ACTION on doing therapy/meds. Just sit on it for a while (any reputable psychologist will give you a full and detailed report with test results so you can sit with them and digest). Anyway, that’s my 2 cents. Good luck!

    • rebecca eckler

      March 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

      Thanks!! I will check in about this!

    • wmdkitty

      March 13, 2014 at 7:32 pm

      “There is no shame in ADHD.”


  9. rrlo

    March 12, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    I don’t know man – I was pretty disorganized when I was in grade 6. I don’t think being ultra organized is the natural state of being at the age of 11. I could be wrong but all signs indicate otherwise.

    • CMJ

      March 12, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      I was a total hot mess in sixth grade – but I did know to study for the right test. I think that tidbit tells me all I need to know.

    • rrlo

      March 12, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      I can’t remember if I studied for the wrong test… but it’s certainly possible that I worked on the wrong homework occasionally. Rebecca also says that her kid’s grades aren’t suffering either – to me that’s more important. Whatever… I don’t really have a strong opinion otherwise. If organization club makes the kids feel better and more in control – then it sounds like a cool idea.

      ETA: If it doesn’t then it isn’t a good idea.

    • CMJ

      March 12, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      Just because her grades aren’t suffering now, doesn’t mean they won’t eventually. That’s why I think it’s important, if you recognize there’s an issue (which it seems like her teacher and even Rebecca do) it can’t hurt to attempt to teach a child organization skills especially when things are only going to get more chaotic as schooling continues.

    • rrlo

      March 12, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      It certainly doesn’t hurt to learn some organization skills. Just from reading what Rebecca wrote – it sounds like she’s skeptical if the club will help her kid or cause more issues. And if it doesn’t help – then what’s the point? I also don’t understand why a 6th grader has so much homework… Is this a new thing?

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      It could be an exaggeration, or she could be bringing home ALL her books (I was bad for that). I think kids are getting more homework than they used to though, and there’s some guideline as to how many minutes per day each grade level is supposed to spend on homework (at least in Canada).

      As for the club, I think it shouldn’t be dismissed right away and at least be given a shot. If it seems like her daughter just isn’t improving or it’s making things worse (after giving a good effort) then giving it up would be fine.

    • rrlo

      March 12, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      That’s the thing… I can’t tell from this one post if it’s the author taking some creative licenses with the language or if there is an actual problem.

      My first (rather knee-jerk) reaction was I am sure everything will be fine. What 11 year old is super organized? I know I certainly wasn’t and most of my friends weren’t – and we’re all fine. But then if the child is bawling her eyes out for missing tests – maybe there is a problem.

      You’re right though, the club shouldn’t be outright dismissed. Some basic organizational skills/tips/tricks can’t be a bad thing.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      Yeah, the crying over missed tests got my attention, too. Most 11 year olds aren’t overly organized, and I was incredibly disorganized, more than most other 11 year olds. But I also didn’t cry over studying for the wrong test, partly because I didn’t study for any test for the most part, but I didn’t stress over school at that point.

    • rebecca eckler

      March 12, 2014 at 11:45 pm

      Interesting conversation here. Enjoying. Wondering if we adults, let’s say, worked on a project that was due this week, but instead started working on another project they thought they had to do instead. As an adult woman, I would bawl too, out of frustration…and then work my ass off to get back on track with the project that was supposed to be due. My point is, my daughter of course was crying because, she was frustrated at herself, who wouldn’t cry (at any age) if they worked on something/anything for two hours…and it was the wrong thing! You’d be frustrated! We may suffer some sort of consequence, and so did my daughter!

    • pixie

      March 13, 2014 at 12:08 am

      I don’t think any of us are denying that it’s a frustrating thing to go through. But without knowing anything else, it really seems like her disorganization is affecting her. That’s the point, I think, we’re making. I also acknowledged that I was an entirely different kid and being disorganized didn’t affect me until much later. She’s clearly smart enough that it hasn’t had any impact on her grades yet, but it may in the future.

    • rebecca eckler

      March 13, 2014 at 12:12 am

      It sure would!

    • rrlo

      March 12, 2014 at 5:53 pm

      I don’t like the idea of kids going to school the whole day and then have a whole pile of homework. Especially at a young age. I hope if there is a trend for increasing homework – it reverses by the time my kids reach grade school.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 5:59 pm

      Oh yeah, from what I can tell it’s not an overly positive thing for both students and teachers. I can understand maybe giving 5 math questions on what they learned in class to see if they learned the day’s lesson, or read a part of a book, or answer a couple questions about something (name 3 things that are red, 3 things that are circles, and 3 things that begin with the letter r if it’s really young kids).

      But with standardized testing prep and other things, I think there’s a problem of not being able to get everything in during the day, leaving kids with a ton of homework. It’s not a huge problem for the kids at the top of the class, but for the ones at the lower half it could increase the gap and push them further behind.

    • rrlo

      March 12, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      The ADD diagnosis from the random mom really bugged me. I HATE it when random people try to diagnose children. It’s hard enough for experienced professionals to accurately diagnose ADD.

    • CMJ

      March 12, 2014 at 5:40 pm

      Oh, I totally agree with that. And I get what you’re saying – I just look at it a little differently in that if you see that it’s a problem, why not try and learn some good organizational foundations now?

      I think Rebecca also tends to be a little dramatic as it relates to the consequences not living up to the “expectations” of this organizational club.

    • brebay

      March 12, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      Professionals don’t diagnose ADD anymore because it’s no longer a diagnosis. Only ADHD with subtypes, some of which don’t include the hyperactivity piece, but ADD is not in the DSM anymore.

    • rrlo

      March 12, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      Yes, I read about that. I just used ADD because Rebecca did in her article. However, same comment goes for ADHD – in that I don’t like it when any lay person tries to diagnose a child.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      I just didn’t study. But that was more so because i didn’t have any motivation. If I could cruise through doing minimal work and mostly get straight As, I would.

      My notes, though…oh god not only were they all over the place and in different notebooks, but my writing was horrendous despite the fact that I had really good printing/handwriting for a 12 year old.

    • Guest

      March 13, 2014 at 10:55 am

      Yes, that is where I was like wellllll this kid has a problem. It is one thing to be disorganized but that it such a broad thing to miss that I’d be a little worried.

    • K.

      March 12, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      I wrote about this above, but organization is something that has to be taught and it’s usually dealt with around grades 5-8.

      Schools are different, but I do remember that at mine, various teachers did have literal “lesson plans” on like, “Here are your folders. Put your name on them. Now label them: the green one is for math. The blue one is for history…etc. etc.” I also remember teachers instructing us on how to make study flash cards and the first time we had to independently construct study sheets as homework before coming up with a master one as a class (instead of the teacher handing us one)–all of that was around 6th grade. As an adult, most of these things are somewhat automatic and I think I forget that someone had to sit me down and teach me the steps.

    • rrlo

      March 12, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      I think I had bit of a knee-jerk reaction since I don’t consider myself to be very “organized” and it never hindered me personally at all in my life.

      But in my head I was thinking organized more of clean desks, socks in the sock drawer kind of thing… as opposed to learning ways to ensure I can achieve my goals and plan for things.

      So you’re right – much of it are important life skills that may or may not come naturally to some folks.

    • K.

      March 12, 2014 at 11:47 pm

      I’m not terribly “organized” either–organized enough, but I’m definitely a “piler” and not a “filer.”

      “learning ways to ensure I can achieve my goals and plan for things” is a good way to put it. I didn’t realize how much the practical stuff had to be taught to me until I was teaching at community college and a bright student came to my office hours and said, “Um, I don’t really know how to take notes.” I suddenly realized–oh yeah, someone actually sat down and taught me how to take notes!

    • Igottagetoutmore

      March 12, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Using stationary vs stationery doesn’t bother anyone else?

      I love organizing, I don’t function well if things are out of order and it makes me feel better to have no clutter and not spend my time searching for things.

      Re: the Einstein quote, it is cute sure and applies to some people but perhaps it is just to alleviate the sense of “not having your sh*t together” that organized people can throw at disorganized people.

      I do think that what you see modelled as a child you use in your life going forward so if her mother is disorganized and thinks it is fine why should it bother her daughter?

      I was always taught “a place for everything and everything in its place”, disarray was not tolerated so I don’t have that in my home. We went through a renovation and it was emotionally painful for me to have dust and mess and no control over my environment.

      I hope that her daughter learns basic skills to manage her time and not have issues like studying for the wrong test and crying again. Some routine or sense of order can prevent that.

      Not saying disorganized people are lazy. Lazy to me means they don’t care, disorganized means they do care but aren’t doing things the typical way (I can find my papers on this messy desk”.

      Just if her daughter is crying over something like this she should try to help her implement a system that works for her to prevent it happening again.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      I agree with you on the lazy thing. My parents tried to implement the a place for everything and everything in its place on me and I tried, I really did, it was just difficult for me. Things like my coat I could put away where it was supposed to go, but my desk and room…that was a struggle for me. I cared a lot, and now that I’m older (20s) I have mostly figured out how to keep myself mostly organized, but as a kid that was very hard. I’m just a disorganized person fighting to stay organized.

    • Armchair Observer

      March 12, 2014 at 8:41 pm

      Being disorganized and having trouble staying organized aren’t exactly the same thing. You might just be global, which means you need things spread out.

      Being ‘spacey’ can be pretty much the exact definition of ADD (not ADHD) for some girls. Some girls with ADD often zone out.

    • pixie

      March 12, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      It’s posible, but I have had problems with both being disorganized and staying organized (the latter especially when I’m stressed). And I’m not disputing “spacey” being common in girls with ADD, for me it was an issue of not being challenged in school when I was young, I was pretty much determined to not have ADD, but I have had friends who had ADD that manifested in “spaciness” or zoning out.

    • K.

      March 12, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      I’m not sure that this is in response to me…?

    • Igottagetoutmore

      March 12, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      No..i tend to ramble to try to get points out. I was just trying to get it all out as opposed to responding to points someone else made

  10. aCongaLine

    March 12, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Getting your shit together will model desired behavior for your daughter. Apples and trees and gravity.

  11. aliceblue

    March 12, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Do you think that the teacher would let me join?

  12. Momma425

    March 12, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Normally, I don’t complain about the writing in here, but come on. Your daughter would “lose her head if it wasnt attached to her head”??? This is just bad.
    Why not have her go and try it? What’s the worst that could happen- she might learn a few tricks, and if not, it isn’t as though her disorganization can get any worse. Teaching your child good organizational skills are important- I used to be disorganized at home and ended learning some tough life lessons by paying bills late because I couldn’t find them in the mess and clutter. Additionally, a lot of jobs won’t let people keep a messy desk. At my work, they say something to people when their desks get too cluttered.

    • brebay

      March 12, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      also, stationery, not stationary.

  13. simoneutecht

    March 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    And I thought my 40k emails on my iPhone were bad.

  14. Guest

    March 13, 2014 at 10:52 am

    I used to be organized but as of late have beena s*&% show. Google organizational blogs. I’m telling you, seeing how other people have made stuff cute and organized has me inspired and has already helped me get my life together. I get the messy desk stuff, and my desk is a wreck, but honestly the people I know who really have their career/life together (or where I would like to be) have their desk cleaned and know where it all is. That is what I strive for now and it is something you just need to work on.

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