The Teenager’s Room
My daughter’s room is a disaster area in a constant state of flux. We ask often for her to straighten it up, to put things away, get them up off the floor. But her response is usually, “This is the way a teenager’s room is, Dad.” I reply, “But it’s dangerous.” I see myself racing in in the middle of the night to wake her for an evacuation, fire or tornado or impending attack by Huns, and crashing over books and ipods and clothes and bags of tortilla chips and collections of dance shoes, breaking a leg and being left there as the tornado rips the house apart.
She does occasionally pick up and put away what she can when it just gets too disgusting or she can’t find those last three paychecks she got from teaching dance. And I can’t fault her too much. We live in an old Greek Revival house that has no storage space. There are only two closets in the whole house and they are in my bedroom, full to the point of exploding. She lives at her computer, so everything is within easy reach, piled about her on the desk or on the floor behind her. And like every teenage girl, clothes are a passion for her and she has long since outgrown her dresser and chest of drawers that were purchased when she was an infant. So if it’s not in the dresser, it’s in the hamper, or the laundry baskets, or piled on the bed or the floor, or on top of another pile.
Strangely enough, she usually knows where everything is, with the exception of that thing for downloading the pictures from the camera, or that thing she was supposed to send to a friend at Christmas, or whatever. Things get misplaced but it’s usually her mother’s fault. She must have moved it.
When I was young I shared a bedroom with my older brother. We lived in a small two bedroom house with my two sisters and my parents. The boys had one bedroom, the girls the other, and my parents had two large dressers in the dining room and slept on the pull out couch in the living room. My father shared our closet filling it mostly with his suits and shirts. I don’t recall having much that hung in the closet besides a sport coat or single suit and a few shirts and slacks. But the bottom of the closet belonged to my brother and me. There were two large cardboard boxes filled with toys and baseball gloves and army surplus and comic books and all manner of stuff. We had bunk beds to save space and my dad had built a long table top along one side of the room for desk space, study area, and a place to “do stuff”. I built numerous model cars and planes and ships on that table, collected stamps, and coins, and rocks, and dismantled transistor radios and other appliances. My brother’s record player sat in the middle dividing the space. We were never allowed to leave the room in a mess. We were expected to keep things put away and orderly to some extent. Our beds were to be made every day and every Saturday was cleaning day. Sweep, dust, and put away anything left out. My mother sewed for people and often had customers at the house, usually Agnes Scott College students, for fittings and alterations. So things had to be presentable. Little did people know that our hall closet held a huge box of clothes that were clean but needed ironing. If you needed a shirt or a blouse you had to dig through the box and find it and iron it yourself. We had no dryer, clothes were dried on the line outside, and most things were cotton, so “wrinkle free” was nonexistent.
So I guess like most parents, I resist going in my daughter’s room to avoid the feelings of “Oh my God” and try to bite my lip when I do enter so as to allow her to have her own space and her own responsibility for taking care of her own things. Again I can’t complain too much. She’s so busy with dance, and gymnastics, and her friends, and school work. She gets great grades and has wonderful friends, stays out of trouble, watches very little TV, and is an all round excellent kid. And she’s a Virgo like me so I guess I expect some semblance of order and organization.
But to each his own. In a year and a half she’ll be off to college and I’ll miss that mess terribly.