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MOMents - The Teen Bedroom

Clean bedroom, fantasy or reality?

I recently attended a session at Mass College of Art and Design on student admissions portfolios. I mention this because one example of a “drawing from life” was a sweet-looking and extremely neat bedroom.

The admissions representative asked out loud what the rest of us were politely thinking, “I wonder if it really looks that neat?”

She seemed to imply that a messy bedroom would not negatively affect your chances for admission, but she sort of stressed the importance of being yourself in your art.

Does any teen bedroom look that neat? Don’t answer this question if a paid housekeeper is cleaning the teen bedroom in question.

The issue came up again a few days later in the New York Times, where an article, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/01/garden/teenage-bedroom-as-battleground.html “Bedroom As Battleground,” appeared complete with a request for photos so the discussion, as well as the disgust, could continue for days.

At first I thought, wow, a break from political news for something that really applies to my life. Maybe there will be some advice in here that will help me.  I find the issue so overwhelming. My last attempt at dealing with this included,  laughably, new laundry baskets.

I purchased eight baskets, two for each child, and asked that they simply keep the clean stuff in one and the dirty in the other. This is of course a giant compromise from actually putting the dirty laundry in a central location and the clean, god forbid, in drawers, closets and on shelves. But, maybe it could be a step toward floor space.

My daughter laughed and called it ambitious. Others seem to see it as a good idea and decided they would try it and it might help. Two baskets have not been claimed and cluttered yet another precious inch of common space until I gave up and put them by the washer and dryer.

The New York Times really didn’t offer ideas like tubs and organizers. They offered coping strategies like, “this is not about you” or “why do you really care,” and a “cave of one’s own” prompting some self- examination.

It’s not too hard to answer these questions. Let’s see. I care because I have recently paid hard-earned money for new clothing that is all over the floor. Or, I care because I already washed that clothing and suspect I will be seeing it in the laundry again even though it has not been worn. 

Then, there are the larger philosophical issues. I care because this makes me feel like a failure as a parent. Or, I care because someone is coming over who might see this with a different set of eyes and then I will really feel like a failure as a parent!

The slide show of photos sent by readers was informative. We are not alone in this world. Many teen bedrooms across the nation look even worse.

But, there is something so freeing in the idea of the cave. Maybe we can just allow that, as advice suggests, as long as there is no spillage into the common family areas.  Maybe someday, the idea of clean space will be appealing. Or, when their own hard-earned money buys the clothes, the home, these offspring will feel differently.

For now, anyone drawing a neat teen bedroom might instead use it in the category,  “drawing from fantasy.” 

Neila J. Straub November 11, 2012 at 12:42 PM
Yes, the worst is the laundry as depository for anything that needs to be put away!
Restless November 11, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Too funny. My kids are are not even teens yet and their bedrooms are a no go area. I have started purchasing multiple laundry baskets as well. Only the threat of the contractor strength black bag while they are at school spurs them into action.

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