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Laughter clears the air until he cleans up his room

'Don't come in," my son shouted in answer to my knock at his door. "My room is furnished in early tornado today." And I laughed. I always do when he describes his room. He's very inventive about telling me that therein lies chaos.

The other night I nearly fell through his floor-to-ceiling windows because I didn't see his trumpet case (black) lying on the floor. "Well at least this time you had a 50/50 chance," he said when I told him what happened. "I put my knapsack away."

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And I couldn't help laughing again.

But laughing doesn't dispel my concern for his well being. And I am concerned because I think it's important to have order, and the place to start is one's own room. And when I look at David's room, I think there may be rocky shoals ahead.

Now, order to me means that out of any five objects sought, hands can be laid on three within five minutes; the fourth in maybe 10, and the fifth may or may not show up. I don't think that's unreasonable. I don't think David can meet the requirements. And I can't check because he's onto my game plan and refuses to cooperate.

To get him moving in the right direction I gpapers on top of it. I got him his own hamper, put it in his room, and yet he still leaves his clothes on the bed. I gave him a bulletin board, and his papers are still strewn over his desk. And I am, by mutual agreement, not supposed to straighten his room (though sometimes when I can't stand it any longer, I do it anyway, contravening our pact, which bothers me).

Most of the time the door to his room is closed so I don't have to see the mess. But I know it's there. And so does he. By his own estimates clearing it up would "take a few minutes."

But it's these important few minutes he won't commit to.

He won't file. He hates it. (Who doesn't?) When he needs to find something it's generally a hit-or-miss proposition that often leads to a great deal of frustration that could be avoided.

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And it often involves everybody in the house because he goes raging around trying to find whatever it is he needs. ANd to say "I told you so" or "why didn't you put away?" does absolutely no good for anyone, though occasionally I do succumb.

On the few occasions when he has figured out where papers and things belong and he has been able to go to them with dispatch and find them when needed, his well being and self-esteem are enhanced. He knows that.

Also, he doesn't seem to consider his room a part of the house. "Just forget about it," he tells me. But I can't. To me it belongs with the other six rooms.It's community property. We all owe each other something.We perform for the mutual benefit of all. Is that unreasonable?

Messy rooms and teen-agers seem to be an unavoidable combination. I find that teen-agers get satisfaction from seeing their things strewn about with abandon. At the outermost perimeter is their territorial imperative.

My daughter's room didn't look much better when she was home. But in her case she knew where everything was. She had piles of things all over, but most of them wercerned about her.

The subject creates a lot of tension. And the other day David told me if I said one more word about it he would have a meltdown. And again I laughed. And , of course, the laughter is marvelous. It clears the air.

And since most of the jokes respond directly to the issues at hand and show his awareness of what's really going on, I don't lose hope.

Someday he'll find his way clear to straightening his room, I just know it.

What a wonderful day that's going to be!

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