I was 11-years-old when my parents shipped me off on a plane to visit my grandparents in Nova Scotia for two weeks. I flew from Winnipeg to Toronto where I changed planes, continued to Halifax, changed planes again, and made my way to Sydney all on my own.
There was no Unaccompanied Minor Service back then; I relied on airport personnel and strangers to point me in the right direction. I was served peanuts on the plane and nobody asked if I had allergies. The person sitting next to me was smoking.
When I came home, my entire room had been cleaned out. According to my parents, they had gotten rid of three garbage bags full of my crap.
Welcome to parenting in the 70s and 80s.
Fast forward 30 years, and while sending your kid halfway across the country unaccompanied isn’t happening as much anymore, one thing hasn’t changed: the bedroom battle is still going on.
I recently asked on my Facebook page “On a scale of 1 to 10 how hard is it to get your kids to clean their rooms... and keep it keep clean?”
25 comments later, it ranged from “Your scale doesn’t go high enough,” to “I'd have better luck catching a unicorn.”
But my favourite response was from Jennifer Pinarski who clearly took a page out of the How to Parent Like It’s the 70s book: “I made them leave for a weekend and threw all their shit out.”
Well done, Jenn, well done.
The bedroom battle continues to rage on at my house. I go back and forth between letting my boys live in their own filth because it’s their room, to me walking into said filth, losing my shit and taking away all tech until their rooms are spotless.
Even after they’re done, it’s never done, done. Do my kids have a form of colour blindness that prevents them from seeing anything that remotely resembles dirt? Maybe my daily wardrobe should simply consist of dark socks and low expectations.
Most of the 25 people who responded to my informal survey suffer the same chore war I do, but there were a few who chose to find their Zen and not to battle it. Two out of the 25 have kids who actually keep their rooms clean.
The fact is, for the most part, my boys are great. They are inclusive, polite, and do chores around the house whenever asked. And if I’m sick, they not only step up to the plate, they load it in the dishwasher, and put it away when it’s clean.
So, what’s a mom to do?
I’ve decided to channel my own inner 70s parent and go with the words of a famous retro-mom, Erma Bombeck:
“If the item doesn't multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?”
Now, if you’ll need me, I’ll be in my backyard sipping a martini and listening to my transistor radio while I wait for my spam and pickle gelatin mold to solidify.
A mother’s work is never done.