Three of my four children were born with a rare disease. It's heartbreaking, and it's often terrifying for the parents of afflicted children. I have never told anyone before, because this disorder is little known and not very well understood. Most professionals who hear of it for the first time refuse to believe that it's a real sickness. I assure you that it is. I'm finally gathering my courage to talk about this openly because I know that there are other families out there who suffer with this illness. It's time for us to stand together as parents and know that we are not alone in this fight.
Aside from the chronic symptoms that plague the children, mothers are often drastically affected by their children's disease. Most are the ones who usually live with the effects of this disorder every moment of every day. Most fathers are affected to some extent, but they're often in denial about this phenomenon.
What is this horrific sickness? Believe it or not, it doesn't even have a name yet, but I call it CCMRS. I will list the common symptoms of this little-known, yet incredibly widespread syndrome.
The most common symptom, present in over 90% of the kids who suffer from the disease, is the complete inability to clean their rooms. They are often blind to the fact that there is a thick layer of dust coating their dressers, desks, and bedposts. These children seem to deny the existence of their closets and dressers and opt, instead, to heap their clothing, dirty or clean, into a gigantic pile in their room. On rare occasions, when parents have taken it upon themselves to help their suffering children, they often find that a gaping, smoldering hole has been burned into the carpet by the toxic contents of the pile. Another common indicator is that there is usually some kind of food, dirty dish or utensil lying in some hidden spot. It's not uncommon to find a fossilized hot dog under the child's bed. Dirty underwear is scattered about, and trash of unknown origins is usually strewn over every square inch of the carpet. Only a handful of the people who have attempted to research this phenomenon will agree that the kids who suffer from CCMRS have a form of blindness that makes these elements in their rooms completely invisible to their eyes.
A particularly chilling sign of this disorder is a wet, mildewed towel at the bottom of the laundry hamper, with the damp, black crud seeping into the nearby clothing.
Another very common symptom is the inability to pick up towels off the floor after they've been used, inability to pick up trash that has missed the garbage can on the first try, and absolute muscle failure when they try to hang up their coats and put away their shoes.
Short term memory loss is another common indicator, such as when children are asked, “Who made this mess?” Children with CCMRS will be completely dumbfounded. Most sufferers regularly lose their memories of where the dishwasher, dish soap and sponges are located, causing them to leave dirty, sticky dishes in stacks in the sink, around the sink, on the stove, and sometimes, even on the floor where the dog licks the plates. In CCMRS families with pets, the animals often suffer an unpleasant side effect of the disease when they excrete the nastiest stuff you've ever smelled, from both ends, as a result of noshing on leftovers strewn around the house.
The most frustrating part of CCMRS is that parents will repeatedly try to teach their children to hang up their clothes, put food back into the refrigerator and cupboards, clean up the globs of peanut butter that are frequently left on the kitchen counter, and for heaven's sake, take a shower once in a while!
This leads to our next symptom. Boys, in particular, seem to have a variant of the illness that causes them to have complete and utter disregard for their hygiene. Boys with this condition seem to have absolutely no knowledge of their own body funk, and subsequently, they do nothing to get rid of it. In fact, it's so severe in some cases that, even if the boy is followed around by a hoard of flies and has a distinct fog emanating from his armpits, he will still deny – violently, on occasion – that he needs a bath or a shower. Look inside this young boy's mouth (although experts highly recommend you wear a surgical mask, possibly even a gas mask before attempting this), and you will find remnants of last Friday's pizza and various levels of tooth decay, gingivitis, and yellowing of the teeth. He can't seem to comprehend the fact that his mouth smells like formaldehyde and no one wants to be within a ten-foot radius of him at any given time. The sad truth is that, for as many dental visits he's had, as well as parental nagging, he simply does not possess the ability to brush his own teeth. Often, he lacks the muscular ability to raise a stick of deodorant to his armpits, his fingernails and toenails are reminiscent of the tragic Edward Scissorhands. And frequently, there is a small family of rodents nesting somewhere in his tangled mop of hair. This symptom has also been observed in girls, although it's less common in the female gender.
The most alarming trend, though, is the fact that parents will frequently develop symptoms of the disease after they have been around their infected children for long periods of time. A higher number of children in a family seems to increase the appearance of symptoms in parents.
It's time for us, as mothers, to take some action. CCMRS, or Can't Clean My Room Syndrome, is recognized by parents across the globe, yet the medical community refuses to acknowledge it and consequently, there is little or no funding available to allow research to find a cure. It has been estimated that at least 95% of all children suffer with some degree of this disease. Call your local politicians and tell them that you want to start a task force to research this horrible, debilitating illness. Have courage and take any kind of action you can to alert the medical community of this ravaging disease.
I'm thinking of organizing a telethon.