What was going through that reconfigured frontal lobe when it brainstormed doing her little nails on my favorite art book while catching up on a seriously inappropriate season of Weeds? Was she high by osmosis?
Then, my alter ego reasons with my designer ego. Poor girls. They can't help it. They are on that fast track to the Race to Nowhere, forced to prepare for college in kindergarten and to opt out of summers while catching up on chem and algebra courses. They must endure tedious mounds of busywork/ homework and suffer through countless hours of play rehearsals and soccer drills.
Yes, fellow co-dependents, the lives of the scholar-actress-Olympian is hella busy, allowing miniscule down time for lifting wet stinky towels from the carpeted floors of their shrines. I can't blame them for letting the junk pile up around them, burying the upholstered day beds under stacks of books and clothes and masking the original intent of their desks. I believe those big wooden trays with four legs were once.... work stations? Not coat stations. Not tampon stations. Not skinny jean and platform sandal stations. Does anyone else remember the desk? Or has the dining room table replaced it, entirely, becoming yet another convenient depository for the STUFF?
"You're spoiled brats," I utter in those moments of weakness and duress, losing the struggle to control my environment at a time when menopause demands such control. The younger one shouts back. She does so, with a sheer, lack of respect, because if nothing else, I encouraged them to challenge authority. "Well, you're the one who raised us, so blame yourself!" she shares. Good girl. But I hate her.
Scratch that. I hate what I've created, and I do blame myself, and I blame you, too, for letting your daughters off the hook. Yeah, you sister, You heard me. You with the feeling sorry for them because they carry heavy loads and you want to cut them a break and you want to control your environment any way you can. As a result of that sort of thinking, we will be unleashing an entire generation of detestable dorm mates, a spot once happily reserved for rugby players and eccentric hackers. A spot once reserved for males, who some argue, are closer to the ape.
So, yes, we admit, we've enabled the slobs. They were busy, starting in kindergarten when preparing for Yale and that is when we noticed they were one-girl caravans carting toys, dolls and paper projects through the oasis, to be followed by bigger toys,bigger messy girlfriends and paper projects throughout high school. So let's think like therapists and now that we've explored and identified our culpability, what do we do with it? Wait, a therapist would just allow this to go and on, perhaps recommending we come more than one day a week. We've got to nip it in the bud. We must figure out how in the world to get them to pick up at this late stage of the domestic game of playing house.
The answer is blowing in the wind, along with the dust from accumulation: In a word; Threats.
Not veiled, not hostile in tone or vindictive in nature, but delicious, or-else threats that their simple brains can absorb, one weekend at a time, with no chore left behind. "You have to pick up all your stuff and hang it up or there is no way you are going to that party on Saturday." Be firm and convey you mean it. And then go on to finish all the dinner dishes by yourself. I guarantee you will see results because they live for those parties or that Bieber concert (what's with the $1,000 a ticket meet and greet?) or the shopping trip to Westfield to buy Mac concealer.
Dismiss immediately advice to reason with them. Therapists will suggest reaching them with lines like "We all live here together in a community and you need to do your share."
Their reconfigured frontal lobes cannot absorb this kind of logic. I repeat, identify what they can't live without and threaten the hell out of them. The rewards are well worth the cunning psychology. Your environment is under control a few days of the week, and you have spared the world more piggy roommates to clutter tight spaces. Those are two big accomplishments of a mother. Best yet, more helping hands will free you up to do what you enjoy, like getting 20 loads of laundry out of the way.
Tomorrow's lesson: teaching them to hang up their clothes rather than cleverly tossing them in the hamper.