1) Laundry. First, it turns out that if you are a 14 year old boy, and you wear an item of clothing for 15 minutes, it is then dirty. Also, when said item of clothing is cleaned and placed in your room to be put away, it seems to be SOP to simply drape it elegantly over a chair or leave it folded on your dresser, less than 4 inches away from a drawer. I deal with this by simply not caring.
2) Bed time. Oh my frigging LORD. During the week, it’s a disaster. He has to get up at 6:25 AM in order to make it to school on time, and I try to get him to bed by 9:30. Inevitably he wants to tell me jokes about elephants and farting, or discuss theoretical algebra (ow) or chat about his favorite You Tube video. I’m lucky if lights out occurs by 10:00. I deal with this by simply walking out of the room as he sings something by Green Day.
3) Cleaning. Yeah, I actually care about this, because his bathroom looks like 46 frat boys used it during a kegger. How does someone get toothpaste THAT high up on a mirror? (He sings while he brushes his teeth with an electric toothbrush-this is our theory.) Every weekend, the teenager must clean his room and his bathroom. He wanted his own bathroom, and the deal was if he owns it, he cleans it. Now of course when I remind him of this, you would honestly think I had just asked him to drive a nail into his own eye. I deal with this by yelling, threatening to ground him and bribery.
4) Grades. We’re actually really lucky in this regard. The teenager makes the honor roll, sometimes by the skin of his teeth, but he makes it. We do have issues with organization; the teenager will suddenly wail in deep despair while digging through his backpack, “I left my notes for the science test somewhere! I put them in my backpack, and now they’re GONE!” This is a “bite your tongue, Erin” moment. Telling him that he has a folder for this, so why not use that rather than just shoving things into his backpack, that would be a great idea, is not helpful at this moment. I deal with this by commiserating, showing honest empathy, telling him he’ll be fine, and subtly pulling out his folder then sneaking out of the room.
5) Hygiene. Right, here we go. Teenage boys smell like feet, death and onions. My friend, Melisa, had a teenage son who would shower himself with Axe fragrance to the point where she developed an allergy to it. I’d walk into their house and immediately be able to tell you where her eldest child was just by following the odor of Manly Mint. (Not a real scent, I just have no idea what the actual ones are called.) Our child does not necessarily have an aversion to bathing, he just gets distracted. His sweet singing voice echoes out of the bathroom, and my husband will look at me, and I at him, and we will smile sadly. We know the teenager will not be out of the bathroom for quite some time, as he likes getting through the entire song. Twice. A few years ago, the then pre-teen would forget to use soap or shampoo, believing that just standing under the water for half an hour was enough. We’ve moved beyond that, thank God, and we now just get to listen to “Wings of a Butterfly” by HIM wafting out of the loo. The teenager also hates to wash his face, then expresses frustration at his few pimples. THIS I deal with by drinking. Only in the morning, though. Sherry tastes really good on Special K. The cereal, not the drug. We’re not there yet.
Are you raising a teenage boy? Are you sane enough to let Mad Mike’s in on your parenting secrets? If not, please just post the name of a good, dry sherry.