Monday, May 21, 2012

Boys and Their Bedrooms



   
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For as long as I can remember, since I stumbled upon the Zits cartoons in the Washington Post, I have thought they were drawn in response to observing my family of boys. They center on a teenager called Jeremy, his stay at home mom and dentist dad. If you are a parent or grandparent to boys or have brothers, nephews, boyfriends, fathers or messy, procrastinating, constantly hungry, teenage daughters then you will relate to this series. If you have toddlers or tweens be warned these comic strips are a hint at things to come!
I am convinced that Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman who draw the cartoons each day have a camera set up in my home, examine the footage each evening and after laughing very loudly, design their next cartoon based on the antics they have observed. It is not uncommon for me to open up the morning paper, read the cartoon, nod my head in resignation and then cut it out and place it gently on one of my sons’ pillows. It has become a humorous, non- threatening way for us to communicate about the joys and frustrations of living with teenage boys.


A recurring theme in our lives and therefore in Zits cartoons is the perpetual state of chaos in our sons’ bedrooms. This situation was certainly re enforced for me last week. I went to help Benjy, our college freshman pack up his belongings and drive him home, at the end of his first year.


His college is only half an hour's ride from our house, so last Thursday I set off at midday to help him out. Now I did not grow up with brothers, but having 3 sons has prepared me for mess blindness, tissue trails, clothing covered carpet, bathroom floors that are an inch deep in water post showers and a mound of unmatched socks. However even I was challenged by the sight of Benjy’s dorm room and the shocking realization that I could not see where in fact his bed was hidden, under all the debris. He shares the enormous room with two room mates. They have  obviously not paid  any attention to the  cleanliness of their abode since the beginning of last semester. So there was only one thing to do..... launch a search and rescue mission to find Benjy's bed, desk, books and belongings.


As I stood at the entrance to the room, that mission seemed very overwhelming. But as we divided and conquered, one garbage bag at a time I discovered the bed was still in the same place it had been when Benjy first moved in 8 months ago. I wondered if I had taught him anything about domesticity in his first 18 years of life, even the most basic premise that a garbage bin is for throwing garbage in. (And if you are thinking that if I had called it a rubbish bin, he would have known what to do, I can assure you it would have made no difference). But after 2 and a half hours of chatting together, laughing, greeting his friends who ambled in and out offering to help as we cleaned, sorted and discarded various unidentified sticky objects, I realized I didn’t care (that much) that I was sitting in a pile of detritus. What was most obvious was that he had managed perfectly well without me in this mess, made wonderful friends, got on with his room- mates, found his place on campus and in his program and succeeded academically. So I guess the real mission was accomplished and as for the room, well there’s always hope that next semester he’ll have fathomed out the cleaning piece too.


Update
72 hours later, I am reporting a positive early start to organization and cleanliness in Benjy's bedroom at home, but I’m not holding my breath and if you want to know what happens next, just look in tomorrow’s Washington Post Style section at the Zits cartoon.


Have a wonderful, tidy week.


Gilly


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12 comments:

  1. having spent Peasach with my 3 teenage nephews, I can vouch for all of the above. Unbelievable!

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    1. Rachel-I think my mother in law tried to warn me...having had 3 boys of her own....but until you see it for yourself, you can not believe it is true! But given that you have now experienced this yourself it is comforting to know I am not alone! Thanks Gilly

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  2. I have to admit I was a horrible slob as a teenager. Sadly for Melissa, I never got much better. Its not really that I am messy I just have my own organizational style and cleaning isn't always at the top of my priority list.

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    1. Well if at least you can find things in your own mess, that's a start!
      Gilly

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  3. my kids are preteens and we laugh at Zits every day in the Post! what a hoot!

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    1. Thank you for letting me know....and if you saw yesterday's and today's Zits they only confirm my suspicions about the camera! Gilly

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  4. I love this post, Gilly.
    So glad Benjy is home and had a great year.
    And I guess I have to start reading Zits. ; )

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    1. Melissa-Since you have boys, it's never too early to start a Zits' education.
      Thanks for commenting.
      Gilly

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  5. Benjy's home, forget the cleaning, enjoy!

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    1. Sukey-Yes he is and I thought that threatening to take a picture of his already messy bedroom and post it on the blog as an update, would act as an incentive to tidy it up-no such luck.It's still amazing that he is home though.

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  6. Replies
    1. Thanks Jo -Shame it's true! lol
      Gillyx

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