Junior spends hours in front of the mirror before allowing himself out of the door. Clothes are minutely inspected for hairs, creases, any sign of a spot or stain. Hair is checked for a single one out of place. A great deal of attention is devoted to colour co-ordination, brand name matching, appropriate deodorants and any aspect of appearance that you can think of. He's such a smart (and, of course, good-looking) lad that any parent would be proud to see him stepping out of their front door.
So how come he leaves behind a bombsite? His room looks and smells like, like, like.... no, I'm lost for words. And this is one aspect of his youth that cannot be compared to my own. When I was young not only was my room expected to be kept tidy but my bed had to be made as soon as I got up. A military inspection could have been made without me suffering too many ill consequences.
So what does one do about a room that makes the council's landfill site look like a Harrod's window dresser has been at it. Partner-who-loves-tea and I have different views on the matter. She wants to insist it is kept neat and tidy. My view it is his space and only if it affects us does it matter. Once a week when he is out she rushes in there and extracts everything that doesn't belong. Then she gets out the vacuum, air freshener and other cleaning aids and spends a couple of hours tidying up after him. If, by any chance, he needs some clothes in a hurry she will wash them for him.
My approach is rather different. I simply nag him until he brings out any dead food, dying socks and clothes that are capable of standing upright of their own accord. If he fails to do this the consequences are simple. I go in there and bring out the dirty dishes and leave the rest to fester. Then when he comes to need a particular item of clothing and it isn't clean he has to do without it. It has missed the wash until I next feel like doing one.
Which approach works best? I know you are dying to know the secret of how to manage this unruly youth. The answer is simple - neither approach works. The first one simply encourages him to rely on his Mum more and more. The second creates bad temper on both his and my part. He gets upset because he cannot have his favourite T-shirt to go out in and I get upset because the scissors have disappeared from the kitchen and it would take an hour to find them. I wouldn't mind what state he kept his room in if it didn't impact upon me but disappearing cutlery, plates and the like do affect me.
The only consolation in all this is that we don't seem to be alone in suffering this problem. Many, indeed most, parents I know seem to utter the same tale of woe. So what is the point of all this waffle - the simple message "YOU ARE NOT ALONE". (And if anyone does know the answer - Why haven't you shared it with the world????)