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Church of Clean: A Story of Tween Filth

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Katie Wisdom Weinstein: It is summer. How do I know this? I can walk from one room to another and while I am gone, a hurricane of tween crap suddenly appears.

tween in messy bedroom

My daughter and son dwell in caves of dirty socks, comics, single shoes, empty juice bottles, cell phone chargers, discarded clothes, and half-used-up school notebooks. There seems to be a kind of comfort in their mess. Like a well-worn security blanket, they surround themselves in their detritus.

When I cannot find any implements of technology (telephones, iPods, TV remotes, or my cell phone), I wade into their dens of hormonal existence and find the tools among the wreckage. Can one person (albeit a tween) walk by a backpack filled with musty clothes from an overnight 2 weeks ago, over and over again? Can one person (same tween) walk by a crusty, empty lemonade glass next to their computer, over and over again? The answer is "Yes," and the reason is because my children have special goggles. Scuz Goggles.

I promise you, I am not one of those "let them live in filth and they will eventually get tired of it and clean up" kinds of parents. No way. Saturday is chore day. Saturday is my Church of Clean. Amen. Now, go pick up your crap. By midday, it is back. Like a creeping vine, the clutter closes in on me. I yell, beg, reason, and negotiate. My kids look up at me innocently from their Wii marathon. What useless bargaining!

Now that it is summer, I have implemented THE CHALKBOARD. A list of daily chores is now my salvation. "Check the board every morning, before you head out for the day," I say sweetly. Let's see how long this lasts.

I do remember this. I am not a robot mother. I can relate to being so tired I needed to sleep through the morning, busy with my phone calls, catching up on my summer TV, eating cereal a couple of times a day, hanging out in my pajamas 'til noon. I am giving my kids two summer weeks to slob about. Then the filth fest is over. Back to Church of Clean.


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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
angstmom.com June 20, 2009, 10:44 AM

love it- same struggles with my tween step-daughter. i always wonder how she can live in such squalor- than i remember how i lived when i was her age and the horrible battles i used to get in with my mom over it.

sue June 20, 2009, 5:00 PM

Thank you so much. I thought it was
just my 12 year old daughter who was such a slob. She can literally wade through dirty clothes on the floor. My rule is that it doesn’t get washed if she doesn’t pick it up off the floor and put it in the hall clothes hamper.
If she can’t find a favorite shirt because it is dirty on her floor, I am hoping she will learn to pick up.

Miranda June 21, 2009, 5:51 PM

When I was a tween I had major Scuz goggles. Then, one day, I had left a glass of Instant Breakfast on my dresser. And it stayed there for a week during the springtime. I was expecting my mom to clean it up, but she didn’t. It started to smell and she still didn’t clean it, so I was left scraping chocolate-y mold out of a glass. After that, I decided that squalor was not for me. As my space grew smaller (my parents renovated when I was 15, then I moved into a dorm, then I moved into a 1-BR apt. in NYC with my fiance), I continued to learn the value of cleanliness and storage.
What I’m trying to say is that cleanliness takes time, and the values you are instilling on her now will carry her through life, giving her bonuses (she will be a very desirable roommate come college time).

MerrieWay July 4, 2009, 4:39 PM

MerrieWay remembers teen room clutter: Best advice given for my peace of mind, “Why endlessly argue with your kid to clean up their bedroom mess? Close the bedroom door and let them live with the stench.”

Chela July 18, 2009, 3:50 AM

Ha, this is definitely how most teens live. I’m 16 and my room is always an absolute mess. I’ll clean so my room is spotless but it’s all ruined within a few hours. I’ll leave food out until it smells. Sometimes I can’t even open my door because there’s so much stuff on the floor. But I do eventually get sick of living in a disgusting environment and eventually thoroughly clean everything.

Ten Tees January 8, 2011, 4:16 PM

Great article! Nice reading. I have got a thing to submit about shirts.


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