When I remarried I knew I was not only was getting Brunhilda to live with me, but also her three children. I had two of my own, so that made a total of Seven. I had visions of the Brady Bunch with everyone getting along, and when we had a little squabble like all kids do, then Brunhilda and I would rise to the occasion and solve the problem with gentleness and understanding, just like mom and dad Brady, in a way in which we both agreed and would go in the great book of parenting genius.
Not since Custer decided to surround all those Indians was a plan so poorly conceived. My two didn’t last long, one joined the beer-soaked world of college and the other flew to the comfort and concern of her mother.
I moved the new family into a large house where there were three bedrooms on the main floor, another in the basement and as a bonus, had a complete two bedroom apartment upstairs with a private entrance, it’s own bathroom, kitchen, living room, stove, fridge, etc. – the works. It came with a young lady who paid me rent and helped out with the mortgage payments. Mortgage payments that was monthly ransom equal to the national budgets of some third world countries.
Unfortunately, the renter got a transfer and vacated the apartment. I put an ad in the local paper for an apartment to rent, but the two girls, Cleopatra and Bathsheba begged to take over the apartment. I mean BEGGED! A coward begging for his life would have been in 3rd place in a begging contest. It was no contest when Brunhilda joined in the fight on the side of the girls. She thought we would have more privacy, I argued that I could ill afford to lose the rent money.
They finally swayed me with the argument that as a teen girls they needed their privacy to and would have a bathroom of their own to tie up for hours at a time. They promised to keep the apartment neat and clean, if I came up to the apartment at any time, I could eat off the floor and I would mistake it for Martha Stewart living there. They would do the dishes every night for a year and if I would visit their rooms it would look one of the bedrooms in the White House.
I know, I know! The fact that I believed that for one millisecond show that I had tapioca for brains. I would have had better results if I had rented the place out to vandals.
Now I know that many of you are saying that every teenager has a messy room. I know this. Every teen, in the confines of their own rooms, have the hygiene habits of a goat. I am dealing with the “spillover,” that affects a whole floor and which is considered a “common area” as part of the home.
Ever since being talked into the decision to let Cleopatra and Bathsheba to live in the “spartan” existence which includes a private bath, fridge, stove, TV, VCR, computer, stereo, etc., the upstairs has taken on all the ambiance of a tire supply store. They spend roughly as much time cleaning as a five-year-old does writing thank you letters to Santa. The only items that are kept up and maintained with absolute regularity are the telephone and the TV remote. These are protected like the Holy Grail.
It is not like I am talking about a small inconvenience here, that the rest of the family has to endure, like having to buy an extra set of dishes and flatware. Cleopatra and Bathsheba have carried more dishes and spoons up to their room and we never see them again. Or else they show up weeks later with enough congealed residue that it would support agriculture And remember this: I traded this situation for a person who kept the apartment tidy and neat – and paid me besides!
It is obvious that I have no idea about dealing with teenage girls. Most of the solutions to this problem are illegal. Bargaining hasn’t worked. I have bargained with new clothes, new TV’s, a private phone line, newer carpet, etc. I am the only one who recognizes the sanctity of a contract?
I think I should have the upstairs apartment paved. Yeah, you heard me, PAVED! That way when a judge sentences a criminal into community service by picking up trash and litter along a stretch of pavement, I can say, “pardon me, judge, I know just the place.”