Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Zits comic strip is awesome:

MOM: (Jeremy texting away) Jeremy, I found an empty milk carton in the fridge, an empty cereal box in the pantry, and an empty Doritos bag under the sofa cushion! I don't think a person could get any lazier than you!
JEREMY: (engrossed in his texting) Thanks for believing in me, mom.

When my daughter was a teen it was Popsicle sticks. On the arm of the couch, under the couch, in between the cushions of the couch, on her desk... It was an invasion that lasted for 6 years. I am happy to report that as a young adult she knows to throw her trash away, and takes pride in maintaining a lovely living space. And in fact, when I am staying with her, I am put on notice to keep it neat!

This is a universal plight of parents of teenagers. Teens subscribe to the eat, drink and leave principle. I don't see it so much as laziness, as I do distraction. I think the progression goes something like this: I'm hungry/thirsty, think I'll have a ___________. Then the consuming of said snack commences, followed by the putting down of the glass, plate or wrapping on the floor, window sill, or couch cushion while they continue to engage in the more interesting aspects of their life. i.e napping, texting, or  facebook. So you see in the moment it's just a putting down till later, and then when later comes the glass/plate/wrapper is pretty much invisible to them as they get on with whatever it is they get on with.

You have some options here. And as I think back to the Popsicle stick conundrum, I realize I never had a waste basket in the TV room. Maybe if I had put a basket literally right next to the couch on the side she always sat on, she probably would have used it. My bad! So the first option is to see if there is a solution other than yelling at them to clean up after themselves. Think like a design consultant, and engage your teen in the process with you. Your I Get It moment: "I get when you are finished with your soda/snack/juice you just put it down while you get on with something else and then forget about it. But it is making me crazy, and we are getting ants/flies and other indescribable insects as a result. Other than me yelling at you, lets come up with a solution.

Option 2: You give the reminder; "Hey honey don't forget to throw away your ........" When they don't, which of course we know will be the case, you leave it there, and the first time that day your teen asks you for something, a ride, laundry, help with homework, etc, you say calmly and without sarcasm and anger, I'd love to honey, let me know when you have thrown away your wrapper, or brought your dirty glass/plate into the kitchen and I will be glad to help you." Yelling and labeling them as lazy will not engender cooperation, just attitude. Helping them to understand that relationships are reciprocal is more meaningful.

Option 3: Just do it yourself, you have bigger fish to fry. Chalk it up to normal teen behavior. Know that as they get older and are living on their own, and the parent maid service no longer exists, they will figure it out. It is just a moment in time, they have a lot on their mind, and wrappers/plates and glasses just do not take up any space in their overloaded brain. This can take up a lot of negative energy for you, it takes two seconds to just do it yourself. And rather than bemoaning the laziness of your teen, re-frame it into, they have a lot on their mind, and this is your way of acknowledging that.
 Wait till you see their dorm room!!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. You may not need a commercial style kitchen countertops but your bathroom may need to be updated or renovated. Finding materials for a new bathroom in New York is easy and even fun to do. You should consider lighting and d├ęcor along with functionality.