The request to my 13 year old was simple: “clean your room.” Let me back up for a moment, as this actually happened last week (and the week before and the week before….)
My son used to keep his room relatively neat. Clothes were generally picked up. True, they did not always make it to a hanger, but half-folded in a drawer was pretty darned close. Books were either at or near where they belonged on the bookshelves; and toys, while completely unorganized, were at least tossed in bins. Miraculously, he even managed to pull the comforter over his bed on most days.
But something happened as my son passed into this great unknown I call “teendom.” He suddenly forgot where everything belonged. He seemed to believe that his closet permanently relocated to the middle of his floor. He also seemed to have forgotten the location of the clothes hamper or that his comforter even belonged on the bed. He certainly seemed to have no recollection of ever having storage bins or shelves for of all his 'stuff.'
So after my request, my son went upstairs to get to work. I could hear him walking around from above, making sounds that one could (loosely) translate as picking things up off the floor. Thirty minutes passed before he greeted me in the kitchen with an, “I’m done.” At this point, any parent of a teen out there is no doubt shaking their head. You know what I was about to find as I entered the abyss.
Sigh. Okay, the clothes were all off the floor. Granted, he balled them up, whether dirty or clean, and threw them into the hamper (yes he remembered where it was!), but at least they were off the floor. However, the floor was still covered with books, papers, shoes, baseball caps, wires, and (gasp) food wrappers (how many times have I told you no eating in your room!!) It appeared that my teen thought that pushing everything from the center of the floor to the edges of the floor constituted cleaning.
I tried to stay calm as I firmly told my teen, “This room is not yet clean.” What I really wanted to say was, “ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?,” but my four-year-old sponge (I mean son) was standing next to me. The last thing I needed was for him to repeat that to his pre-school teacher the next day.
My teen's room, as my mother used to say, “looked like a pig-sty!”
How do I know that my mother used to say this? Well, it seems that as a teen, I was not exactly the neatest person! (Sshh – don’t tell my kids.) The thing is - I never really thought I kept my room that messy, and gathering by the look that my son was giving me, he was feeling the same way. So what is it about teens? Since my son is only 13 years old, I have a feeling I will be asking myself this question many, many, MANY times. The real question is, will I have it figured out by the time my four-year-old is a teen? Doubtful.
PS – My son did get his room ‘mom-approved’ clean on the second try.