COLUMN: Hoping for a return to the order of things

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As the father of a female teen, I have many questions.

And I know there are even more questions that I don’t even know about yet.

I also know that there are questions to which I probably really don’t want to know the answers.

However, I do have one question in particular.

I’d like to know why a neat, clean and highly organized child loses those attributes in alarming escalations upon entry and progression through teenhood.

Apparently, tidy habits are recovered upon exit from the teen years, but I have yet to personally witness this.

Can one wish upon a strand of DNA?

I am aware and somewhat bouyed by the knowledge that this descent into environmental chaos is not a unique phenomenon.

I have spoken to many parents with teens, and they confirm similar experiences, e.g.:

The teen arrives home. Once through the door, apparel begins to drop off the young body.

One shoe disembarks its foot in the foyer, lonely and adrift. The other is cast off mere metres short of the hall closet.

The jacket may find a stair railing, perhaps the top of a bureau, but it is definitely not mated with a clothes hanger.

The trail continues down to the teen’s room.

Pullover, shirt, socks, pants and underwear are all added to previous items already carpeting the floor, discarded along the shortest route to the shower.

The room itself? Imagine a cyclone striking an American Eagle warehouse and you’d have an appropriate visual.

What lurks under those multiple mounds of clothes? Lost treasures? My missing frying pan? One of the resident cats? Is that meowing I hear?

One thing for sure does exist somewhere in there – the laundry basket, long overwhelmed and buried by the blizzard of garments.

And what else? Who knows? Who dares to check?

This once was the beloved space occupied by a meticulous youngster, with everything in its place, and a place for every thing.

It is now occupied by a hormonal human puzzle factory, which litters its lair with cast-off clothing like bones in a dragon’s den.

Some of it is unfamiliar, since it apparently belongs to friends. Apparently, these kindred spirits frequently share fashions, and have no qualms in littering each other’s rooms – perhaps in some sort of friendly territority-marking ritual.

Upstairs, the mayhem continues. Textbooks are spread akimbo on the kitchen island, coffee table, couch, or any other horizontal surface.

Bags, rags, rings, things and other assorted detritus – spun off by the teen tornado as it churned through the house on some essential mission, frequently involving a snack.

Don’t get me started on that …

oh never mind, I’m already there.

Previously proud, gleaming pots fester in the sink – gooey and glued with unrecognizable foodstuffs.

The stainless steel refrigerator doors bear the fingerprints of the guilty, and the stove is covered in spits and spatters from culinary calamity.

To this I return each day. Daily, I issue decrees and heated threats of dire consequences, to no avail.

The teen has shed and fed.

It moves on...

... until Sunday afternoon, when a stunning transformation takes place. The teen cleans, sorts, tidies, launders and folds.

The condition is fleeting.

However, there lies hope in the universal order of things.

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