Yesterday my husband and I did the unthinkable. We cleaned our teen son's room while he is away at camp. I'm not talking about running the vacuum and folding clothes. No, this was a complete overhaul.
Were we bored? Are we crazy? Snooping around? None of the above. The idea came from a video my husband shared with me on Facebook a while back. The point was that sometimes we forget how busy our kids really are.
This came just after I was ready to freak out about his dirty room-again. Can it really be that hard to just stick your socks in a drawer? Maybe put dirty clothes in the hamper instead of on the floor next to the hamper? The answer is yes, kinda.
This also came after he forgot to close the garage door, twice; left a competition permission slip on his desk that he never asked us to sign and missed the competition; broke his second tennis racket of the year; failed a chemistry test, and didn't see/forward the email about his tuition being due.
I was at my wits end and obviously keeping a mental tally of all the things he was doing wrong.
The video got me thinking about the activities he is balancing and what I was doing at his age.
- I was in the band, so I spent time marching and practicing. I took regular classes at school, hung out with friends a lot and worked part-time at a fast food joint. I had a treacherously messy room. Mom used to go in with a box, scoop clothes off the floor and ground me from them. Sometimes I didn't even notice they were gone.
- He is taking advanced classes at the high school and a few starter courses at the college. He volunteered over 200 hours last year. Tennis practice or his part time job take his time after school. He is the president of a school club, so that takes time and so do student government and honor society commitments. If his '72 Ford, which he is resorting himself, clunks out then he has to spend time on that. (At his age I didn't even know you had to change the oil on a car.) Homework needs to be done at some point and so does hanging out with friends or just relaxing on his own for a bit.
Looking at the 'room situation' through the lenses of priority and time, I can see how cleaning his room takes a back seat. Knowing this, I still don't plan to back off, but I will help a little more.
And that is why hubby and I decided to clean his room for him.
We moved all the furniture, vacuumed behind everything, cleaned the floorboards even. The desk and the dresser got moved to opposite sides of the room and we took out a shelving unit he was basically using as a dumping ground-which drove me nuts because it was his library! (The books were rescued and moved to the main library in our house.)
There are now sections for tennis stuff, work/auto clothes stuff and his volunteering program stuff. We took out a laundry basket full of clothes for Goodwill and a whole trash bag of, well, trash.
Mikers made an appearance. Mikers is the old stuffed doggy toy his Nana gave him. Poor thing is matted, but well loved. We placed him in the under-the-bed storage along with a few other keepsakes.
We sorted his school stuff and when put altogether, we discovered he does not need any new supplies. We found the missing piece to a toy we are trying to sell, about ten Nerf darts, an old, rusty car part, and three months worth of unused contacts (old prescription). He'd received a tennis medal I knew nothing about. The book he swore he could not find-yeah, on his bookshelf. How many half-used, expired tubes of sunblock can one person have? Five. That's like $60 in sunblock!
|The desk is clean for the first time in forever.|
He just has to go through the stack of notes he
saved from his last classes.
It took a few hours of teamwork to get this done. I can only imagine how long it would take a teenager not too motivated to clean to get the job done. At one point I started to worry he would be upset to find things moved or given away. Really though, I think he will be relieved to have a fresh start. Just because it is summer does not mean he's not got a lot on his plate.
Now I have to refresh my understanding of his stress levels. As a busy mom of a busy kid, I tend to forget he is still learning how to manage his time-and common sense.
I will help with his laundry. I will fold the clothes. (He has to match the socks. I just can't stand doing it.)
I will remind him to add dates to the family calendar. I can show him, again, ways to keep his school work organized.
I will remember to tell him I love him and I am proud of him.
I may even help him clean his room again.
But, I will not clean his bathroom!