The results of procrasti-nation

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 11, 2015

John was not really a bad kid. However he was seriously impacted, as are many other 15 year olds, what with the raging hormones so attendant with this age. Often his thoughts and logic were only decipherable to himself, as regular hygiene and organization were beyond interest. The parents, of this challenge, were constantly perplexed and reduced to muttering about their son and his future.

“Son, you need to clean up your room! How many times do I need to tell you?” was the oft-repeated refrain. The “dump,” as John’s room was affectionately known, was a sea of dropped clothes, dust, grime, papers and numerous bits of undecipherable refuse, amassed over an extended period of time. The kid would occasionally put in a few grunts and groans, feigning effort, but in what amounted to a reshuffling of the hoard.

At his limit, the father announced, “John, this will be your last warning. Either you clean up your room, or I will take care of it for you!” As before, the notice was acknowledged, and then soon forgotten.

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As parents often do, they look to themselves for blaming their progenies’ behavior on some failing on their part.  Such was the case in this circumstance, as they had not provided guidance for what constituted a clean room. The father, realizing this shortcoming, went to the boy’s room to provide him an education in the required standards.

Upon entering the room, the dad began to collect every object in disarray, from the bits of paper, to the clothes, to the unkempt dresser drawers and even the undecipherable. Each was, lovingly, placed in the center of the child’s bed, where he could now more fully understand the meaning of “clean.” The room looked remarkably better; even with the three foot mound of stuff on the bed.

Bounding in the door, after a day of school, John immediately went to his room. Turning the corner, he was caught in mid-conversation, as the full impact of the new view was assimilated. The inevitable, and quite familiar, “Whadja do that for, Dad?” was soon followed by his father’s brief explanation and apology for not having made it clear what the expectations were.

After the initial impact had been absorbed, the teenager went out with his neighborhood buddies, returned to the home for dinner and then spent time with homework. Soon after, the pastoral scene revealed mom and dad, with their son reclining on the carpeted floor. With a full belly, the kid soon began to yawn. The dutiful father reminded his son of the necessity of taking care of his room, whereupon he got a nod. A few minutes later, the yawns continued and the arms stretched, in sleepy relaxation. The father exclaimed, “Son, you know you cannot go to bed until the room is clean.”

To which the eloquent teenager quipped, “But you would be asleep before I was done!”

“Wake me up!” came the dad’s quick reply.

Soon the sound of a vacuum cleaner echoed off of the “dump’s” walls. Increased breathing and teenage mutterings were heard. Finally, around midnight, there was a gentle nudge on the sleeping dad’s shoulders, with the pronouncement, “I am done,” emanating from the darkness.

Padding down the hall, the duo viewed the new scene. It was perfection. The room was now polished, vacuumed and organized. The son had done a great job and he was told so, with the tag line, “Let’s keep it this way.” With few exceptions it was, with only an occasional reminder to keep it reasonably neat and tidy.

Would it not be great if we adults had an occasional push to get us out of our own procrastinations? Certainly, all of us have put things off, some of them important enough to have an impact on our lives. A spoken, or unspoken word, an act, or our muttering inactions have resulted in our being less than our potential and often due to our procrastination. This equates to our avoiding contemplation of important matters, or even allowing ourselves to find excuses to not take action at all. Imagine our world, our Nation, and ourselves, if we could reduce our procrastinations by even one iota. What a place this would be for us all.


By Father Jonathan Filkins.