Friday, March 25, 2011

A battle I choose not to fight

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing."
Phyllis Diller

"Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory: (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight..."
Sun Tzu

It has been a while since I mentioned my son, Darth Spoilboy. All is well, for a fifteen year-old boy, his life right now revolves around his soul consuming desire for his restricted drivers license which he will be able to test for in a little over a month. Life with him is a constant dialog over when and what car we will eventually buy for him and how he will go all out helping his parents. Promises abound with Darth Spoilboy guaranteeing how he will gladly assist us in things requiring a car and more normal things around the house. 

Since we are not a rich family by any means any car we purchase for his use will be a something very basic and hopefully reliable. This goes counter to the various sports cars that idly drift in and out of his fantasies. As for his current eagerness in helping his parents both Dragonwife and I have no illusions that it will last. We fully expect him to artfully forget all the things he said he would help us with like driving Miss Wiggles to her gymnastic practices, making runs to the grocery store, and the very basic thing of simply keeping up with cleaning his room.

Some progress has been made on that front, on a previous post I remarked how I once found a fossilized McDonalds double cheeseburger underneath his bed and how it was so hard I believe it would beat depleted uranium as an antitank weapon. The worst thing lately has been his collection of used drinking glasses that never make it to the dishwasher. It's a stupid pet peeve of mine I admit, but I cannot stand how every time he gets something to drink Spoilboy always gets a new glass from the cabinet. Throw in a  few empty cereal bowls and spoons and I can go into his room and nearly find another load for the dishwasher before I unload the one still in the machine.

I have long since given up on having him make his bed everyday, while it was something my grandparents instilled in me to do as a form of cleanliness and self-discipline the ubiquitous argument he will always put forward is that he will only mess it up that evening so it is not worth the effort. I just have him make his bed every Saturday morning after changing the sheets.

One fight I have completely surrendered on is making any sense of his closet, weekends at my house are a total military-style campaign on getting all the laundry done before another work week begins. No one wants the hassle on washing clothes while fighting children on homework and the epic school projects that teachers gleefully assign tired parents like my wife and myself.

Thankfully Spoilboy usually does all his own laundry and takes custody of it after it is dried but every once and a while will forget about it when something pops up. On a recent Saturday when Spoilboy suddenly departed the house with a buddy I mistakenly folded his clothes along with items belonging to Dragonwife and Miss Wiggles. It wasn't a big deal, I was watching a movie and as far as chores go folding clothes is actually relaxing in a Zen-like way. Being a dutiful father after I finished I gathered all the folded clothes up and put them away in the correct drawers. Except for Spoilboy's stuff, I opened up his closet door and was greeted with what you see above.

I believe the clothes on the shelf in his closet are clean while the stuff in the hamper below are dirty, although I could not smell any real difference between the two separate piles. For several seconds I stood there holding the laundry basket containing his neatly folded clothes trying to figure out what I would do. My grandparents would have flipped out and made me organize everything had I ever dared to do something similar. In the end the little voice in my head said to leave it alone and I turned the laundry basket over and dumped his clothes out on the floor. When Spoilboy came home later that evening he went into his room and never said a word.




Hi to all! I know it's een some time since I visited your blog and surely missed a lot of the humour-filled posts but not worried at all inasmuch as I can scroll back and check them out.

Must say that you've got me ROFL with this article.

Hahahahahahahaha... I must send it to Darling.

I thought for a second that you were describing MY OWN baby boy who, by the way, happens to be a few years older than Darth Spoilboy. This to tell you that the battle with our own baby boy (who now happens to be 6'2" tall and weighs some 90 kilos!!!!) lasted some 4 years or until I surrendered last year.

Oh boy, oh boy! What a story -- the story of most young lads in the world today!

Lowandslow said...

Sounds like you're experiencing the exact same thing every other parent of a teenager before you experienced, and handled it the exact same way, too.

I once did go so far as to forbid food in their bedrooms, and somehow managed to make it stick.

What parents need is a time that takes their young 'uns into the future about 10 years ahead of schedule. Imagine waking up one morning and finding him 25, educated, and on someone else's payroll. :)


Sue H said...

I remember those days! Now my errant teenager is a slightly more mature twenty-something who despairs over the slovenly attitudes of his house mates! I just smile as he tells me of what he has to put up with!

Liberality said...

that getting a new glass out every time REALLY ticks me off :)

Beach Bum said...

Hill: I was wondering what happened, I stopped by your place several times and never saw a new post. Will head your way in a few minutes.

LowandSlow: I will admit I'm freaking out about his eventual departure for college. Its still four years away but as soon as I think, or write, that sentiment I realize the boy was a baby just several years before.

Sue H: My mom-in-law said the same thing happened to my wife the very minute she settled into her dorm room at college. She went from living in a total mess at home to expecting her roommates to be spotless and neat.

Liberality: Thank God someone else feels the same way.

Pixel Peeper said...

I believe ALL your readers with kids will sit in front of their computers nodding their heads.

My own Spoilboy is a bit older than yours, going to community college and driving a very sturdy, old, realiable, boring Honda Civic that used to be my husband's car. I experience wild swings between forcing him to go to a local university or enrolling him at, say, the University of Anchorage.

The look of that closet may not improve for a few more years, if my experience is any indicator.

Mr. Charleston said...

I'm somewhat amazed that you actually look into his closet. Somehow I have absolutely no recollection of ever doing that with one of my kids. I guess it's because their mother took care of that end of things. Truly, one of the great things about growing older is no longer having to worry with raising kids. Whew.

allen said...

Somewhere from another plane of existence I hear the echoing sound of "OWhee OWhee" and "Aw Shucks!" from Grandpa. I picture him laughing right now.

Beach Bum said...

Pixel: I hope Spoilboy goes to a nearby college but my wife and her family are pushing him to attend University of Virginia, where they are went.

He wants to attend the College of Charleston or University of South Carolina here in South Carolina but Dragonwife has near seizures when that is brought up.

As for cars, yeah a Honda Civic is about we are looking.

Mr. Charleston: I normally do not go into his room much less venture into his closet. I've helped him clean up his room several times and I have always been surprised at what I find in the process. Honestly, some of the stuff is so gross I want to forget.

Allen: I have often wondered what granddad would think of his great grandkids. It would be fun to see Miss Wiggles and him talk.

Randal Graves said...

Reading this, I felt what I imagine real-life rockers felt whilst watching Spinal Tap.

Fucking glasses, man.

lime said...

good sanity maintaining maneuver. it ain't worth the spike in BP to have that particular argument. i also agree about the mess of dirty dishes being a major peeve. since we live in the woods and have trouble with mice and carpenter ants i will go to the mat over that issue though. i've threatened to cancel the exterminator and use the monthly fees to save for me to take a solo vacation when that issue has been out of control. they may push me to it yet....

Beach Bum said...

Randal: Ain't that the truth!

Lime: Yeah, it happened again last night after dinner. I started the dishwasher and went into my son's room to speak with him and saw three drinking glasses, a dirty cereal bowl, and several spoons.

Of course I had asked just minutes before if all the dirty dishes were accounted for.

Akelamalu said...

When my boys were still at home I used to do their laundry, iron it and put it on their bed for them to put away. Unfortunately for them one day I discovered the newly ironed laundry on the floor, after that they did their own. I also stopped cleaning their room at the same time and just fumigated it when they moved out.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

You know dude, I'll just bet you're a great dad. I didn't really have mine growing up... and when I intuit a good dad I always want them to be immortal. May you be immortal Beach.

Nance said...

The rule I finally applied with my kids was: Your room must be clean (bed made, clothes hung, other items put away properly) every Friday by 5:00. There will be an inspection at that time. If you pass, you can have a normal "weekend," including time with friends, outings with family, etc. If you fail, you'll have to wait until next Friday's do-overs, ever. Parents do not care if you immediately destroy your room five minutes after you pass inspection.

As a child and family therapist, that's the system that I offered to other families (those who placed some priority on teaching self-discipline) and it worked well for many of them.

The discipline actually fell to the parents: to hold the inspection, to hold steady on their decision without faltering, to forego family outings if necessary to enforce the "no fly zone" until next inspection. I believed it was important for each family to choose a small handful of priorities and put their energy into those. If a clean room was not important to the parents, there was no recommendation that they make it a priority.

Meanwhile, Darth sounds absolutely NORMAL to me and you sound like a good Dad! Love the closet; not one item is hung up--one of the safer ways to sample defiance of authority and test the outcome.

Cloudia said...

You are wise
and your son will benefit

Aloha to you BOTH
from Honolulu!

Comfort Spiral


Beach Bum said...

Akelamalu: More than likely I will doing the same to Spoilboy's room when he leaves for college. I'm scared to look in a few places of his room because it is so messy.

Gwen: Immorality for me would require a far different place to live. As for being a good dad, i hope so but I get tired like anyone else would dealing with normal family life. Sometimes I want to go far away.

Nance: Keeping my kids straight is a funny thing, I can make them do their homework and, for the most part, supervise them enough to keep them out of trouble but I'm powerless where their rooms are concerned.

My wife would love them to keep a clean room but for now I'm going to keep that on the list of small stuff as long as the big things are good.

Cloudia: Just as long as he doesn't wreck the car.

rainboy said...

haha spoilboy would be alright in 5 years or so :)
You're doing a great job though.

I can understand that he wants fast cars ...he would need to study hard and buy one for himself :)

love the way you always write home stories.

Take care Man
long time :)
Get me on FB ,I have been so busy with work no time to blog.

Parrot Island Bry said...

Yup, just like my son... can't wait to see what he does to his room in college or what his roommate will say ;-) Keep up the blogs and keep an eye out for Jimmy- think he is coming to Carolina soon.
Fins and feathers,
Bry Harris
Parrot Island Band

Beach Bum said...

Rainboy: Thanks my friend!

Parrot Island Bry: Welcome and come back again! Got you site on my blogroll.