Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tidy up- in the name of the law!

If you have a teenager or two, you'll be familiar with Messy Bedroom Syndrome. I remember my mother complaining about the mess in my room (usually homework all over the floor) but she left me alone. I was after all, attempting 10 GCSE's, many of them completely beyond me, sucking the life out of me. My sister and I used to share a room, and she eventually moved into the spare room because of my mess. (We won't mention the fact that her room now usually looks like a Chinese laundry.)

My own two teenagers are no better. Although Mr. Minimal has a rather well, minimalist bedroom (he got rid of everything to make room for a ping pong table some time in the future), he still manages to make his bedroom floor disappear under a trail of clothes. The kid literally walks out of his trousers at night and leaves them on the floor, looking for all the world as if he's simply vaporized. The Queenager tries, bless - but organization isn't her strong point. It's a lot better now than it ever was, and I no longer find lunch bags (with lunch still in there) which have been festering in her closet for 4 months, imitating the pong of a dead mammal or two.

This all pales when compared to a story I read in the news yesterday about an Ohio man who argued with his 28 year old (?) son over a messy bedroom and then "over -reacted" and called 911 (999).

The son is a school board member in the Cleveland suburb of Bedford, and works as a political consultant. What on earth is he doing still at home in his parents' basement? When challenged about his messy room, he threw a plate of food across the kitchen table and made a fist at his father. (Sounds like politics is the right career choice for him then.) Apparently after the incident, the son admitted that he's lucky to be living in the house rent free, and promises to keep his room clean.

While it's annoying that people use law enforcement services to settle minor disputes and rescue cats from trees (when will they learn that they can't get down?), I place more blame and disdain on the son than the father. As someone who left home for university at 18 and never lived there agin, I can't imagine living with one's parents at the age of 28, although it seems to be quite common over here as young people struggle to pay for college and then college loans. However at 28 you should be evolved enough to do the decent thing and stop behaving like a teenager. Fighting over a messy room and throwing plates about it. Indeed!

By the same token, if it's that much of a problem, the parents can always just kick him out. He's 28 fer cryin' out loud. He probably won't end up on the streets. He'll be fine, and perhaps he'll be forced to grow up.



  1. always found it best to bag up all their stuff

    they get fed up of re sorting it....

  2. My brother is 26 and still living at home. My mom calls him the yo-yo. She tosses him out and he returns. Although, it isn't all entirely his fault. He has a job where he could afford to live on his own with room mates, but every room mate he has ever been living with is a nightmare. They either decide that they are going to not pay the rent on time or decide to up and move to another city without notice (leaving my bother with the rent once again). It is almost just easier to live with my parents until he gets promoted high enough that he can afford rent on his own with no room mate.

  3. I'm with you EPM. Left home at 18, never to return. And whilst I don't look forward to the day the Boys do the same, I do think making your own way is an essential part of becoming a responsible adult. (Because yes of course that's what I was in my 20's living with 3 girlfriends and having the time of my life...)

  4. Not only teenagers (or even Queenagers - what a fab. neologism!). Our ten year-old is as messy as all get-out; his floor a sea of discarded clothes, Lego (hell on the bare feet, you know) and the rest of his gubbins. Agree about them fleeing the nest too, though it's hard these days with housing the price it is.

  5. Here we call these boomerang kids and I'm sorry to say that this trend is probably growing, thanks to the recession. I don't have anything against extended families living together because that used to be the norm but I do have a problem with him not pulling his weight around the house. At the same time he should be making an attempt to progress and eventually forge out on his own and live independently from his parents.

    Ping pong table? Ha,ha! Good luck with that. I have a teenage boy so I can relate to the room and its issues. I learned early on just to close the door and ignore it. As long as the common areas are clean I'm happy. Pick your battles as they say. The only time it becomes an issue is when he can't find something like homework because his room is a disaster. For him this is called "learning the hard way."

  6. The state of The Eldest's room drives me to distraction - clothes and papers everywhere, clean clothes and dirty clothes mixed together, his desk covered with junk. Every so often I ask him to tidy up, and he complains and moans, and asks why it matters to me. And to be fair, I can't think of a good reason. I have to resort to "Because I said so" and quickly walk out of the room scratching my head.

  7. What a pallaver chucking a plate and calling the Police! Over a 28 year old errant son's mess! Bad to make a fist like that, though I can understand it.
    It never works out staying with parents for longer than a holiday.
    We did that for 11 months! Very tricky!

    I remember messy teenagers only too well! I once left a room uncleaned for FOUR years. Was forced to tackle it in the end as son could NOT be forced to tidy up. Still very messy now!

  8. I would try bagging everything up, but he would simply take something out and wear it each day. One thing I can't abide is clothes that look like an old snotty hankie! (Yes, I am the only person in Chicago who irons on a regular basis.)
    The best one was when I asked him what he was going to do at college (this was when he didn't know how to make his bed), and he replied that he'd get a cleaner! Ha!

  9. I left home at 19 and never returned. My sister is 44 and although she has lived abroad and travelled, she has been back living at my Dad's house for the last 3 years and no sign of moving out. I couldn't do it, but she seems very settled.

    My very own Teenager-in-waiting has a very messy bedroom, although every so often she has a major tidy up. At the moment it's getting messy again.

  10. Another one here who left home at 18 -- can't imagine my kids still being home when they are 28. Although, who knows with the economy and such.

  11. I can imagine it might be nice to have one at home if they've all previously flown the coop - but fighting over bedrooms etc. No thank you.

  12. I can't imagine wanting to be at home when I was 28!! Sheesh.

    I try to be real cool about messy rooms, until I can't find any mugs, bowls or spoons. Or when the phone is ringing and I finally find it (after it's stopped) in a teenager's room. Or when I found a tester tin of paint had spilled on a new wooden floor under a bed but had gone unnoticed until it was too late. Or...

    But I don;t have a ping pong table to contend with! Have fun with that one!

  13. I should do a new post - what's the worst thing you've found in your teenager's bedroom!

  14. Sadly at the age of 26, I'm still pretty messy, not dirty just messy and my boyfriend is just as bad. But, at least we live in our own place.

    When I was at Uni we lived with one guy, he was pretty rich, didn't do laundry even though we had a washing machine - he either used to take it to his girlfriend's place, who lived in halls or he would just buy new shirts. Anyway, he never used to wash up his dishes either. So after a couple weeks of asking him to do something about the growing mountain of dishes, we put all his stuff in a black binliner and put it in his bed, to make a point. Sadly we found the same binliner 6mths later UNDER his bed untouched after he had moved out - we didn't dare open it...

  15. I went back home briefly when I was about 25.

    As for my room ...

  16. OMG...the first comment was a case of nostalgia. I moved out of my house one week after my 16th birthday. I finished highschool and even went on to 2 years of higher education (and my parents din't pay a dime for any of it). But at 19 when I decided to quit college, I decided to move back home. I lasted 1 week. Six out out of the seven nights I spent there I was taking my clothes from the front porch back to my 'room' because I came home 'late'. The one night I showed up on time to not find my clothes in the yard I walked in on my parents getting....ummmmm....freaky. I found a place to live the next day. I love my parents enough and know I put them through enough in the 16 years I lived there to ever make them endure that again. Honestly. I would live in a tent before I ever did that again.

  17. I also left home at 18 and never went back. Do you think it's a British thing?
    Admittedly the present recession is changing things, but I've noticed a very distinct parenting difference between the US and the UK. Many of my US friends are VERY involved in their childrens lives (society seems to expect it)and then wonder why their kids are still not independent at 28.


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