“CLEAN IT UP.”

Nothing brought me greater joy than hearing this when we checked into our hotel room over the weekend: “We have complimentary breakfast and dinner for you and your family during your stay.  You and your husband also get three free drink tickets each night.”

A tear of joy slid down my face as I took our room keys.

We were six hours away for our daughter’s soccer tournament. The thought of 6 of us in ONE hotel room for an extended weekend was giving me anxiety and a migraine. My middle two children have NO INDOOR VOICE…at all…ever. So the majority of my time was spent saying things like, “Please be quiet…you’re going to get us kicked out of here…we’re going to have to sleep in the van…ok no pool!”

Fast forward to Sunday morning and our kids were up at 4:15. 4-freaking-15. Of course we are shoved in a hotel room for the TIME CHANGE. “Guys, please be quiet…it’s so early…please don’t wake anyone up…people are still sleeping.”

But I could tell by a woman’s look at the elevator a little later on that she was woken up by my son’s “indoor voice.” I’m thinking I need to put chocolates or mini-liquor bottles by neighboring rooms next time.

Down at the FREE breakfast buffet, the six of us piled on top of each other to sit at the only vacant table. It looked like the size of this…

small circle coffee table Unique 45 Delightful Italian Designer Coffee Tables thunder

Six of us. Around this.

But it’s now 8:00am…but it’s supposed to be 9:00am…but my kids have been awake for so darn long it feels like 2:00pm…we needed to eat and we needed to eat fast. We are slowly approaching stage 5 of complete meltdown mayhem so I was perfectly fine corralling around the world’s smallest table.

Belgium waffles…eggs…sausage…biscuits…you name it, my kids were taking advantage of the FREE buffet. But act like you’ve eaten before, ya know??

The baby of the family still has not mastered the art of getting food from the plate to her mouth. She was leaving a trail of disaster behind…in the form of Cheerios. The floor underneath her high-chair was covered.

I stood up to throw some trash away when I saw a member of the hotel staff. “I am so sorry…my daughter made a mess on the floor.”

I have made this apology MANY times over the years…so I was expecting the usual “oh no worries” response.

Nope.

Not this time.

“CLEAN IT UP!”

Before I could ask if she was serious or not, the woman handed me a broom and pan and walked off.

I heard gasps around me.

My face felt flushed…I was slightly taken back…a little annoyed by how harsh she was.

I could feel everyone staring at me…including my own children…they were waiting to see what my reaction would be.

So I started cleaning up the mound of Cheerios and then I took the broom and pan back towards the kitchen door.

As I was walking back to my table, a woman sitting nearby grabbed my arm and said, “I can’t believe that. You should not have had to clean that up!”

When I sat down, I was feeling a little mortified…slightly embarrassed…and a tad irritated. I was taken back…my initial thought was: THAT WAS NOT MY JOB TO CLEAN THAT UP!

All it took was a few deep cleansing breaths for me to snap back into reality… it was MY job to clean it up. My child made a mess…and I was perfectly capable of cleaning up after her.  Staff at that hotel is not there to serve as my children’s personal assistants. It’s no different than going to a friend’s house for dinner…I’m not going to let my children tear through their house like a tornado and not make sure it’s cleaned up.

I looked around the dining room and it was evident why that staff member had enough that morning: there were rowdy kids (like my own) EVERYWHERE…half-filled juice cups and muffin crumbs blanketed tables…straw papers and dirty napkins covered the floor…it looked like manners weren’t checked in with the bags that weekend.

Maybe hotel protocol is to clean up any and every mess.  I get that.

But it should be parent protocol to teach children that manners matter…every day…no matter where we are.

And if we make a mess, both in the literal and metaphorical sense, it’s OUR job to clean it up.