With two teenagers and an almost 12-year-old under my roof, I believe my kids’ bedrooms could easily make the top five in any competition for “Best-Dressed Floors on the Planet.”
Readers with teenagers, or readers who ever were teenagers, probably know what I’m talking about, but for those who don’t, here’s a genuinely factual fact illustrating what I mean: No. 4 son (age 15) has scads of drawer and shelf space in his bedroom. All of it, every square micrometer, is completely, utterly empty. Every garment he owns rests on his bedroom floor.
Or how about this: No. 3 son (age 17) is responsible for doing his own laundry: washing, drying, folding and storing. Here’s his typical approach to that task:
Step 1: Realizes “I don’t have any clean clothes!”
Step 2: Drag a monstrously overstuffed laundry basket to the laundry room.
Step 3: Wash and dry the clothes. The “dry” step is usually preceded by seven or eight substeps in which my wife or I remind him, “You have clothes in the washer, put them in the dryer!”
Step 4: Monstrously overstuff the laundry basket and drag it back to his room.
If you count the steps outlined in the first sentence of the paragraph above, they total four. And the number of steps in No. 3’s laundry “routine,” also four. So hey, the lists match, mathematically at least, and as far as he’s concerned, the laundry’s done, and he’s good!
The thing is, most of the stuff he routinely wears would fill probably three monstrously overstuffed laundry baskets, so when he needs to repeat his Steps 1 through 4 above, the “clean” stuff that’s stuffed into the basket gets dumped on his bedroom floor.
No. 5 son (age 11) actually gets his dirty clothes into a laundry hamper in his room. Except for the clothes that don’t make it. Stuff that he leaves on the bathroom floor when he takes a shower, for example. Or stuff that gets near the hamper but not in it, a result of him playing “basketball” with his clothes when he sheds them; he likes to attempt long-range jump shots with each piece, from the distant corners of his bedroom toward his hamper. Unfortunately, he makes only about nine percent of those shots.
(And a special note to No 5: Yes, son, I get it; a balled up sock IS easier to shoot toward a laundry hamper, but if you don’t eventually unroll them, I’m going to wash them in their balled-up state, and they AIN’T gonna dry very well in that state, so if you want to complain about putting on damp socks as you rush to get ready for school, COMPLAIN TO THE MIRROR!)
As loving but firm parents, my wife and I have taken the following approach to managing this situation: we close their bedroom doors. This has multiple benefits.
We can’t see the mess.
Our little cat can’t go in and take naps in the piles of clothing, which could result in Nos. 3 or 4 tossing him unknowingly in the washing machine with their dirty clothes.
Our big at can’t go in and, confused by the aroma of the festering textiles, mistake a pile of garments for her litter box and relieve herself. Which she’s done.
All this mistreatment of clothing doesn’t even touch on behaviors like that of No. 3 son, who drives one of our cars to and from school each morning, and has managed to fill it with jackets, sweatshirts, spare pairs of sneakers, baseball caps, etc. He’s essentially driving a diesel-powered closet.
No. 4 son likes to wear flannel shirts and hoodies over his daily T-shirts, and when he gets home from school, thinks nothing of casting those “over-garments” on the garage floor, at the entrance to the house.
Soccer jerseys, socks, cleats, shin guards etc., from practices and games played by Nos. 4 and 5, form their own fermenting clump in another corner of the garage.
Sometimes, the mechanical, thermal and chemical energy of the washing machine are just not enough to improve upon either the appearance or the, uh, scent, of these woefully mistreated clothes. Which, according to my kids, is precisely why the scientists at Unilever invented Axe body spray.