My family must be high on the target list for Al Qaeda, because every time I walk past the kids’ rooms, it looks like a car bomb went off. Instead of nagging them to clean, however, I’m pursuing a bold new strategy. I’m giving tours of their ridiculously messy rooms.
This epiphany stems from a basic universal teen trait: Nothing equals the embarrassment teens suffer at the hands of their parents. Can you blame them? We parental units are over-protective, over-bearing, overweight, and generally over the hill. We are also desperately lacking in the cool factor.
My daughter makes this clear when she points out my eyebrow hair is twice as long as the hair on my head. This repulses her to no end. When we’re out in public, she insists I wear a motorcycle helmet with a dark visor so as not to embarrass her.
Her take on my eyebrow hair mirrors what I think about their filth-pit bedrooms. I’ll admit I’m a pretty neat, systematic guy, skewing a bit toward anal. But they skew way further in the other direction.
Consider the heaps of laundry; the piles of paper; the bobby pins; the orphaned sock(s); the five-year old calendar that won’t be discarded; the old mascara bottle, the new mascara bottle; the half-full mascara bottle; the occasional plate with crumbs and a fork; the endless half-full water bottles; the towels hung from closet doors like terrycloth frescos…
…I could fill the Internet with a list of all the detritus that’s accumulated upstairs, but where will that get me? As a parent, you know we are powerless to stop the endless onslaught of disarray they produce. It’s like they molt mess every night.
I’ve tried everything to stem the tide. Yelling at them. Reasoning with them. Even a controlled burn or two. Nothing seemed to work.
Until I remembered the eyebrows. Embarrassment is their Achilles Heel, and no one is better at embarrassing a kid that their perennially unhip parents.
Thus, a new epiphany arose from the mire, and it came bearing velvet ropes. I decided to give tours of my children’s messy rooms.
Bring on the Velvet Ropes
Using my snowblower, I managed to clear a path through the bedrooms, and lined it with a series of velvet ropes. I donned a little tour guide hat, and then put up a series of signs along the Interstate that proclaimed, “See The World’s Messiest Rooms.”
Soon the masses were pouring in, and as I led them through the squalor.
“Over here you see the Mounds of Mold,” I pointed to an heap of undergarments, encircled by a squadron of flies. “Down yonder, you’ll find the Piles of Plastic Wrapping.” The crowds gasped at plastic wrapping from Christmas toys five years past, still sitting exactly where junior had unwrapped them.
Cries of shock and anguish rang out. “The horror, the horror,” cried one middle-aged mom.
A man started to upchuck at the disarray. “Just make sure its on the other side of the velvet ropes,” I said. “That way they’ll never notice.”
Halfway through the first day, my son and daughter texted me that they were mortified and miffed, and that they would be cleaning their rooms first thing that night to deprive me of any further fun and/or funds. I feigned being broken-hearted, and told them to do as they may.
It’s not often that one of my schemes works so wonderfully, and I thank the epiphanal gods for my good fortune.
Remember parents, you’re an embarrassment to your children. My best advice is to make the most of it.