Monday, May 17, 2010

What's Not To Love: How To Clean A Preteen's Bedroom

At some point during the last three years, I just stopped redoing my son's bedroom and let it go how it will. Presently, it is an almost twelve-year old's bedroom, filled to the rafters with countless books and hundreds of those little toys that he likes to collect. Now and then I would find a stray t-shirt or sock tucked in between the bed and the wall, a missing baseball cap under the bed, or one of his teddy bears sandwiched in between the mattress and the box spring. It also now has a smell that, though not completely unpleasant, tells me that this is not, and will never be again, the 'nursery' that it used to be. He keeps it pretty clean as can be expected of a preteen, and has completely taken over the 'decorating.' The bookshelves are now impossible to dust, because it is peppered with a hundred tiny toys and souvenirs. If I moved any of them, I would not know how to put them back, and so I just let it be. Each morning when I come in to pick up laundry, I am tempted to rearrange something but I don't, lest I disturb something that he's working on. Sometimes I sit at the foot of his bed and stare at the books that he loves so much. I sit there and wonder how he had amassed such a large number of tiny Pokemon toys and how he knows the name of every single one. I sit there for a while and miss him, wondering where all the time went in between those years when everything was baby blue and now. I sit there sometimes and find myself afraid, of that day when that room would sit empty, still maybe filled with most of his things but not him.

And so I pick up but mostly leave it alone. At nearly twelve, he has thankfully still maintained a tender innocence and childhood quality that I know is there because of the toys still lying around. It's a comforting sight, a reassurance that I've still got a little time. I try to help him keep it clean, but not too much. That way, whenever I miss him I can come in any time I want, take a look around (and a few sniffs), and let the familiarity wash over me.

Somewhere in between Sesame Street and Percy Jackson, I now suddenly find myself with a (young) man-child. I've never raised a man-child before, and so I tread lightly. I guess it's a lot like his room; it's good the way it is, with an unmistakable and endearing character acquired over the years. You want to improve on it, but not change it too much. Look in corners and unexpected places for things that are going missing. Watch where you step and learn to love the smell.

Teen Territory

For preteens, it's all about mapping out an identity. They're busy trying to figure out who they are, what they want to be and how to go about it. They've got some amount of information now to decide and to carve out an image for themselves. They also hoard items in massive amounts, sheets of paper with drawings on them, key chains, models, posters, CDs. Every little thing that comes their way becomes part of their 'possessions.' The best way to deal with this is to give them some tools and equipment for their bedrooms that will allow them to organize and design their 'territories' as they see fit.

These shelves and organizers do a neat and stylish job to suit the decorating needs of any teen.

Top to bottom, left to right: Locker Bookcase, $299, A-Frame Bookcase, $299, Display-It Rails, $25, Skatboard Bookshelf $39-75,

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