Sometimes I wonder if my wife has been paying attention all these years.

She continually gets herself worked up over things that our kids do. Things they've done all their lives. Things they've probably learned from me, so they must be OK.

Let's start with our daughter.

My wife was cleaning her room, which is all part of several months of graduation preparation that will conclude with my wife stressing out and the rest of us in hiding.

The contents of the room had to be moved to the living room in order for the carpet to be shampooed.

As my wife uncovered what had been covered for months if not years, she was astonished at the "collections" Claire had accumulated.

Soon my wife became worried our daughter was a hoarder and would be featured on reality television.

Claire had magazines dating back a few years, just as I had decades old Sports Illustrateds when my wife and I first met.

Naturally, I was not alarmed by this. It seemed natural to me.

But, like I was forced to do, my wife had Claire throw out many of these magazines.

Not sure what the big deal is. You never know when you'll need to reference a vintage 1976 Sports Illustrated.

Of course I can't do that anymore. Now, unless it's a really cool issue, like one that has a story on a baseball player in it, I have been trained to automatically pitch the magazine once I read it, and now Claire is in training.

At some point, my wife will tackle our son's room.

She already has made mention of how he keeps house.

Clothes are piled up in a chair or on the floor in a corner. It's his system. It seems to work for him.

I myself have been known to pile things up. Why put clothes in drawers if you're just going to have to get them out again?

Alek claims to not have any clothes, at least clothes he wants to wear. His drawers are filled with shorts, jeans and shirts he probably hasn't seen in months. Everything is crammed in there, making it hard to open or close the drawers, but it works for him.

Unfortunately for him, it doesn't work for his mom. That means at some point the clothes will have to come off the floor, get crammed into his dresser drawers, and Alek will have to be reintroduced to his closet and learn what hangers are used for.

As for me, I have been around long enough to know to try and avoid trouble.

Like the other day. My wife was cleaning our bedroom and moved the magazines I was reading from the bedroom to the kitchen. Translation: Go through these and throw out the ones you're done reading and put the others away in the magazine rack.

Naturally, I put them back in the bedroom, but in a different location. All nice and neat.

My wife and I have an understanding. She cleans house, and I sabotage her work. It's worked for almost 23 years now, so why spoil a good thing.

The next month or so is going to be interesting in our home. My wife will go wild trying to make everything perfect for graduation, and the rest of us will do what we're told and try to avoid trouble.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.