So, I just wrapped up the final rhyme for my parent’s alphabet book, “A is for All nighter”, but I had to revisit the letter B tonight. Because, as anyone parenting a tween knows, in addition to standing for Backtalk and Balk, the letter B also stands for Black hole which is the universally accepted euphemism for “The Kids Room”.
I bring this up because in the last few weeks T2’s room passed Def-Con 4 and was in danger of being condemned (It was even too far gone to use for missile testing). Being one of those creative types who sees a future masterpiece in every dust pile and scrap of paper (not sure where he gets that from), T2 refused to believe us when we warned that the room must be cleaned before our town of 300 people formed a health department for the sole purpose of fumigating his room.
He had tried every delaying tactic in the book for the past two weeks, when I stumbled on a strategy that will someday be be written up in parenting guides–it remains to be seen if it will be under the big Do column or if I’m about to be the most hated mom on Facebook.
Now, H.I. McDonnough once said, “Y’all without sin can cast the first stone.”
See, T1 is getting closer and closer to driving (that’ll be harder story for another day), and like all 15-year-olds he has wild fantasies about what type of car he’ll be driving next year. The older he gets the wilder the fantasy, and the bigger the bankroll he needs, so I withdrew my final bribe to T2 of a trip to the dairy bar and extended a new one of cold hard cash to T1 with one rule.
There were no rules
OK, maybe there was one rule. I mean I did want him to try to steer outgrown toys that weren’t pieces to the recycle bin. And I did suggest he wear safety goggles and a hazmat suit (It was a suggestion born of a similar experience that involve a snow shovel and a black contractor bag six years ago when T1 occupied this very room).
So, yes, I am officially the worst mom in the world, but not for the reason you think. You might say it’s because I sent my first born into the toxic waste dump at the end of the hall, but the pangs of guilt I felt were from knowingly turning T1 and T2 against each other to get the room clean.
But as old toys found their way into tag sale boxes and T2’s collection of microscopic paper scraps were dumped into the firebox, the anguished cries of “No, I wanted to save that candy wrapper” were replaced with high-pitched declarations of “I can do it”.
Ultimately T1 did 90% of the cleaning and T2 graciously took 50% of the credit, and the struggle that had begun weeks ago was over. It took them less than two hours to get the room clean enough to eat in.
And now I’m trying to decide if the ends justify the means and if Mom is just a nice euphemism for “benevolent dictator.”