The Big “But”

I’m throwing in the towel about…well, about throwing the towel.  And the clothes. And the shoes, magazines, old shopping bags, old Kleenexes, and everything else that my teen manages to throw on her floor.  See, I’ve decided, with the high school years dawning bright and early on Monday, that I’m giving up the battle of the teen bedroom. I’ve decided that my daughter is truly not a morning person and I’m tired of deducting allowance every time her bed isn’t made or her clothes aren’t picked up by noon.  Like I said in a previous post, she always has to pick up her room if friends are coming over, but the rest of the time, it’s her choice to keep it clean or not.  And get allowance or not.  And most of the time, she chooses “or not”.  

, my new frame of mind doesn’t mean she gets to ride off into the sunset to Slobland, unbridled.  Au contrare. I’ve just decided to “loosen the reins” a bit and put her on a different path, hoping she will “turn it around.”  I’m taking the advice of my sister-in-law, Amy (and no, she doesn’t own a horse!).

I’m going to tell Allison, “Guess what? You don’t have to worry about allowance and clothes shopping trips being tied to keeping your room clean.” She’s going to be so happy to hear that!  Then comes the great big “But”, the grand caveat, the wonderful “however”:
But, I’m taking a couple minutes each morning after you leave, to scoop up anything left on the floor and put it into the hamper.” Keep in mind, this isn’t just any hamper– she has one of those retro hampers built into the wall that goes directly to the laundry room, one floor below– kind of like Willy Wonka’s bad egg chute (ah, the similarities she has with Veruca Salt never cease to amaze me…).   
So it should be somewhat of a hassle when she has to walk downstairs to fish clothes out of the laundry room chute every morning or evening, and who wants clothes to be as wrinkled as they can get in there? Throw in stinky socks and a wet bath towel and it’s a delightful fabric soup…slowly simmering.  It just may lead to her keeping her clothes picked up every day. If it doesn’t, I will at least have the satisfaction of looking into her room and seeing a clean floor. (As for allowance, it will continue, it will just be dependent on the rest of the things on our “list”– like turn off lights, take your plate to the sink after mealsno eating at the computer, and no hitting your sister!)

As for an unmade bed,  Amy says I ought to strip it and also put the sheets, etc. down the hamper, so she’ll have to make it every night if she doesn’t change her ways.  But I know my kid, and I know she’d probably be happy to sleep on the bare mattress with a stadium blanket or a jacket for a cover rather than make up her bed at night (she once slept on top of her perfectly made-up bed for a week in order not to lose allowance).  I think I’m going to let go of harping about the bed, and again, she’ll heave a sigh of relief. “BUT,” I’ll say, “you know that new queen-sized bed and headboard you’ve been wanting, and all the new bedding?” She will no doubt nod a yes– she still sleeps on the firm, twin mattress she’s had since she was 5.  And then I’ll say, “It doesn’t make sense to invest in a new bed like that if you can’t keep a smaller one looking nice.”  We’ll see what happens. Either she’ll get a new habit and get a new bed, or she’ll keep the bed unmade every day and we’ll save hundreds of dollars. 

Meanwhile, usually all I have to do to get my 10-year-old to pick up her room and make the bed is to just ask.  Or say, “No breakfast until your room’s done.” My teenager would rather starve! ###