Why Sometimes It’s Wiser to Turn Your Back on Your Teenager

I read somewhere, some time ago, that if men were left to their own devices in no time they would sink to the lowest levels of degradation.  I like to think the writer was referring to their housekeeping skills or lack thereof.  Like most mothers of teenage sons I dread going into their bedrooms.  It’s a reasonable fear considering my youngest in particular is something of a ‘collector’.  If in fact our spirits are somehow linked to those of totem animals I think his would be the magpie.  Though I am not sure the magpie features in any Pacific Northwest totem poles.  So maybe he’d be a raven.

He collects feathers and rocks (sometimes called gemstones).  He collects pieces of metal.   Yes, because they’re shiny. He collects jelly beans.  He collects twigs, mossy branches and crumbling maple leaves.  And because he has run out of shelf space these items are displayed in no particular order or place.   Recently he mentioned liking ‘frogs and toads’.  Let’s just say I am happy a thick layer of ice still covers the surface of the pond near our house. I don’t like to think about what will inhabit our home in Spring.  I have imagined crushing underfoot some slimy and slithering creature one day because his room has been claimed by Mother Nature.

Earlier this week I came across a lump of raw bacon fat  in his bedroom.  It wasn’t exactly hidden and it wasn’t in plain sight either but it was a glaring anomaly in the messy landscape of what is otherwise referred to as his ‘kingdom’.    It was just lying there all yellowy-white and greasy on the floor on a sheet of newspaper.

‘What’s ‘hat?’  I asked in what I hoped was my coolest, nonchalant voice. (Inside of course I was shrieking like a wild animal) Was he the new owner of pet python?  I wondered.  Or a wolverine?


I pointed.

‘Oh that.’


‘Bacon fat.’

Bacon fat.’

‘What’s it doing on the floor?’  What I wanted to ask of course was ‘why is it on the floor and not in the refrigerator where it belongs until Sunday morning breakfast?’

‘I am going to use it.’  He replied in his monotone voice while scanning Youtube on his laptop.

‘For what?’  I think my voice rose a decibel or ten by then because he suddenly looked up at me.

‘I’m thinking of making soap.’  Said he, ‘out of pig fat.’

But. Of course.

‘What’s wrong with Dove soap?’

‘Nothing.  I just want to make my own soap.’

‘You’re not using my kitchen pots.’

He shrugged.

‘How long before you get started?’ I asked.


‘You can’t leave it there y’know it’s a health hazard.’

He shrugged again.

I don’t know how I did it.  But I turned my back on that messy room and the lump of bacon fat and walked out.  A little while later I watched in amazement as he threw away the bacon and wrestled the vacuum cleaner out of its cupboard.


4 thoughts on “Why Sometimes It’s Wiser to Turn Your Back on Your Teenager

  1. I think you’re taking the right approach! I know that my parents got on my case pretty hard about keeping my room clean … so the first thing I did when I went to university was let my room devolve into a pig sty. Of course, after a few weeks of no one telling me to clean my room, I quickly realized that having a disgusting room was … well, disgusting 🙂 And out came the vacuum!

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