I just want to firmly state, that it was my goal all along to raise responsible humans who contributed to this household. The Almighty knows I have tried. When they were little, we had chores. I had chore charts. I can probably still find the ones I used on Pinterest if you need to see them. I did all the things that were age appropriate to teach them how to care for themselves, their rooms, and this home. And I did it with a color coded chart. There may have even been stickers.
It has all failed. I’m not sure when it all fell apart, but that’s where we are now. They leave clothes all over the floor. The beds are not made. No one ever screws a cap back on the toothpaste. There are currently four pairs of my daughter’s shoes lying haphazardly by the kitchen door. This house looks like the kind of houses you see on HGTV when the family thinks they have to move because there’s no space for them, but you sit there on your couch drinking wine, judging, and think, “Maybe just get your crap together for 5 minutes and you can live in your own dang house.” This is Us.
My mother used to call messy bedrooms “A Disaster Area.” She’d be like Tom Brokaw on the Nightly News standing in front of a natural disaster but it would be our bedroom, and she would wave her arm around and declare, “This bedroom is a Disaster Area.” The best was when she would just shut the door and say, “This is no longer a part of my house.” So, I guess no FEMA assistance?
Maybe teenagers CANNOT EVEN pick up their rooms. Maybe this is a frontal lobe development thing. It’s probably scientific. They cannot pull up the blankets on their bed and throw their pillows on top because they have to focus on taking 45 minute hot showers without use of any soap or shampoo. It’s probably too much for their brains to manage all of that.
All this to say, we may have had a glimmer of a breakthrough this week. At dinner on Sunday, Lindsey was researching ways to make money because she wants an IPhone X. As she was throwing out ideas that included Ponzi schemes and selling a kidney, I stopped her cold with this: “I will give you both $5 every week if you make your bed. I’ll make it $10 if you put your clothes in your hamper.” Both kids stopped and looked right at me, like I was proposing something the likes of which have never been heard of around these parts. Stephen asked, “What if I forget to throw my towel in the hamper one day. Am I still eligible for the bed making money?” (He’s negotiating with me to allow for his forgetfulness, IN ADVANCE. This is 15 years old, folks.) “Yes, bed making money is still in play.” Both kids started running analytics on their calculator app to determine what this would mean for their spending/saving goals.
We’re three days in with beds made and clothes off the floor, and I’m wondering if this is what chore charts are with teenagers? It’s not color coded with stickers and it feels a lot like bribery, but then again so does most of parenting. I’m not sure if bribery trains a child in the way they should go so when they are older they will not depart from it, but it sure does keep the Disaster Areas contained.