I used to think no one really cared about my housekeeping skills. Everyone was too busy with their own agendas, to-do lists, relationships, to spend time thinking about how I was running my home. That was the mature way to view life, I thought.

Did I use that belief as an excuse to leave the Vicks VapoRub on the bookshelf for three weeks? Perhaps. But I like to live in a relaxed state of mind. I’m organized in some ways — I always have a to-do list and follow it methodically. Jobs always get done and I am never late for appointments. But I’m not necessarily tidy. Okay, take out the “necessarily” — it is not really… uh… necessary. I am not tidy. And I’m fine with that.

I have a happy home, okay? Filled with joy! We live lives of ecstasy. We are thrilled daily! Daily! Bliss is my middle name, Peshie Bliss Needleman. So who really cares about the Vicks VapoRub or the disorganized toy closets?

Turns out Suri did.

Who woulda thunk? My delightfully whimsical eight-year-old daughter who flits here and there, leaving her sticker album on the table, her library book in the coat closet, her mittens on the kitchen counter. Yes, she of the “I know I put the spelling test back in my backpack. Maybe the cleaning lady took it out to look at my mark and she lost it!” fame.

I didn’t know she felt that her mommy kept a messy home until one day I was sorting through all those microscopic helmets and safety cones and swords in the Playmobil box. I do that sometimes. Like once every three months or so. There, amidst the safari accessories and the knights in shining plastic, I found a carefully folded note. It said:

Bookcase one: 56

Bookcase two: 68

Front closet: 79

Dining room table: 30

Kitchen table: 37

And so on and so forth. It looked like Suri’s handwriting, so I called her over and asked her what the paper was all about.

She looked at me brightly. “We learned about rating things in school. In math. Like ‘How much do you like hot dogs on a scale of one to 100?’ If you hate hot dogs, you say one. And if you are kinda okay with them, you say 50, and if you love ‘em, you say 95. Get it?”

I squinted at her. “Yeah, okay… so what’s with the numbers? You counted how many books are in each bookcase?”

She squinted right back at me and erupted in peals of laughter. “No, Ma, the 56 is not because there were 56 books on the bookcase but because, on a scale of 1 to 100, you get a 56. For keeping it neat.”

My jaw dropped. “You’ve got to be kidding me. You went around the house and gave me marks on my housekeeping?”

She grinned. “Yeah. I’m using my math skills, right?”

More like her chutzpah skills.

“Don’t you think that is a little bit rude, dear?”

She looked puzzled. “Rude?” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 566)