My Teens’ Bathroom Is My Worst Nightmare
Can we have a moment of silence for the hair? It’s disgusting.
Messy spaces make me anxious. I can’t go to bed without a clean kitchen, and I make my bed as soon as I wake up in the morning. If something is out of place, I have to fix it. Like, immediately. In fact, before writing this ranty essay, I saw a smudge on my desk, and I couldn't start typing until I’d scrubbed it with a sponge.
To say the least, my cleanliness mantra doesn’t meld well with my three messy teenagers living under my roof. And while I realize my obsessive cleaning ways have not seeped into them — at all — we have an agreement: their rooms can be as messy as they want, so long as they keep our main areas clean, and their bedroom doors are shut. At all times, no exceptions.
But it’s their shared bathroom really challenges my standard of cleanliness. It is my worst nightmare.
To start with, there are towels on the floor, which makes it hard to open the door. According to my teenagers, they dry better that way because their “dumb” brother or sister always hangs their towel on top of theirs. Mind you there are three hooks on the back of the door, one for each kid.
The Q-tips never make it into the trash. Apparently it’s not large enough, and it’s more fun trying to shoot hoops with a cardboard stick flanked by cotton swabs, then it is to walk two steps and hide the evidence of dirty ears. There is toothpaste on the mirror, and little specks on the window that have crusted over, making the glass look more frosted than clear, in the most disgusting way.
The toilet paper roll is never on the holder, propped on the window sill instead. It is consistent with the fluoride splattered window, but really not the aesthetic I’m going for.
My daughter likes to buy every beauty product under the sun, and even if I built an extra room in the house, there still wouldn’t be enough space to house her shampoos, hair oils, face serums, scrubs, and all the other magic potions I haven’t figured out yet.
The bathtub — and this is no exaggeration — is the color of the sky on a rainy, cloudy day. I know there is a white porcelain dream under there somewhere, but it’s highly unlikely it will ever be found again. Lord knows, I don’t have enough elbow grease to get through it. Maybe a pressure washer will work?
And can we have a moment of silence for the hair? There are little chin hairs (at least I think they are chin hairs, and I’m not going to ask) sprinkled throughout. Some in the sink. Evenly distributed on the floor. Some on the back of the toilet seat (yeah, I’m really not going to ask), and of course, lots in the shower. Eccch.
That’s not counting the hair balls that my daughter has smeared on the shower walls, the shower door, and every shelf in that stall. There are times I go in there to see blobs of hair wiped across the entire thing and it looks more like an overgrown chia pet, not a place where you clean yourself.
And the pee. I still don’t get it; the body part used to pee is quite a bit smaller than the toilet bowl. I’ve come to the conclusion my kids are probably working really hard to not get their urine in the bowl because I can’t wrap my head around anything else.
I’ve lost it on my kids more than once about their bathroom. It physically hurts me to pay the mortgage every month where I know there are hairy monsters lurking, toothpaste crusts, and greasy Q-tips floating around my house.
The thing is, I was never very clear about my expectations of their bathroom, which was my mistake. I’ve tried to adjust and set some new ground rules, but old habits are hard to correct. There’s no way on earth I can clean their bathroom too. Believe me, I’ve tried. It always ends with me banging into the door and towel hooks because I can’t seem to open my eyes or uncurl my toes as soon as I step foot into the cesspool. Also, my definition of a clean bathroom is slightly different than theirs.
Actually, that’s a lie. It’s a whole hell of a lot different than theirs.
They are my children, and the greatest loves of my life, but even I gag and sputter at the sight of a blob of their earwax.
I want my kids to respect their surroundings. To take care of their things. To realize it will not hurt them in any way to get a damn scrub brush so they aren’t showering in their own filth.
Their bathroom is my worst nightmare. But, I refuse to clean it for them — I value my sanity too much but also, they need to learn to clean up their own messes. Even the really bad ones they don’t know how to tackle.
I’m sure they will sooner or later.
But if they never do and I find myself living here alone, and they’ve left their dirty bathroom behind, I’m not above coming to their new places to have a party with toothpaste, hair, and makeup products, after I pee all over their toilet seats.
Oh, and for good measure, I’ll make sure I don’t clean my ears for a few days to really get my point across.
Diana Park is a writer who finds solitude in a good book, the ocean, and eating fast food with her kids.