I know that received wisdom states that teenagers should be pressed into service, and should be tidying my house as well as their own rooms, but as usual chez moi it’s all backwards.
Yesterday, after weeks of watching my kids’ rooms descend into a maelstrom of mess and chaos that is really just reflective of what’s going on internally, I decided to grab the dustpan and brush, and enter the dragon’s lair.
The one room wasn’t so bad – a bit dusty, just a couple of old bowls of cereal, nothing too scary.
The second room, well, that was way more challenging.
In the space of an hour, I solved the mystery of where all the socks in the house had disappeared too, as well as all the deodorants. For the last five months, I usually have to go play ‘hunt the BO Basher’ because as soon as I buy one, it goes missing. Baruch Hashem, three of them were safely recovered and are now being reunited with their loved ones.
Then, there was the bags of mouldy clothes, which had been taken for a swim at the Lifta before the Three Weeks started, then donated to science, who used them to grow all sorts of weird strains of mould, some of which I’m sure will save a life someday.
In the meantime, the smell from opening the bag nearly knocked me out.
So, straight into the bin it went.
I discovered five toilet rolls under one bed (which also resolved that mystery, of why I can buy a new bag and three days later it’s already finished.)
I discovered stolen goods that had been the object of many an argument, with both sides claiming the other one had used it – and thus lost it – last.
I found two old, broken phones, one old, not quite-yet-broken computer, and four phone chargers, one of which may actually work.
I will spare you the details of the peach pits I found growing into the floor tiles, the old bottles of water that could probably half refill the Kinneret, and a few other things that were so gross they also just went straight into the bin bag.
As I was pottering around, I pondered the strange overlaps between teenagers and hamsters.
Hamsters also stuff all sorts of things, including food, under their beds. Hamsters also like to pile things up on the floor of the cages. Hamsters also get the most active around 2.07am, which is when you can hear them twirling around on their squeaky wheels, and whooping it up on WhatsApp.
Hamsters can also bite if you try to handle them, and frequently run away if you approach their cages.
In short, hamsters and teenagers are very, very similar.
It’s that ‘animal or angel’ dichotomy going on, and in our generation, our teens have such a big battle to pull out of ‘hamster’ mode and to give true expression to the enormous soul that every single one of them actually is.
It’s so easy, as a parent, to fall into the trap of reinforcing the inner ‘animal’, that’s telling them 24/7 that they are lazy, that it’s all pointless, that they’re bad, that they’re never going to get there, they’re never going to be able to pull out of the muck and mud that is material life in 2018.
But when I go and tidy up their rooms – at great personal risk to life and limb – I’m sending them a different message. I’m telling them: you are an angel! You are a bat melech, a very holy soul. Look, God even sent you a servant to look after you!
Sure, you have some hamster tendencies right now, it’s true. But it’s not the real you. The real you is so much better, so much holier.
And you will get there, my daughter!
And in the meantime, I need to find myself a gasmask or something, because those bags of mouldy clothes probably rank up there with asbestos.
Like my stuff? Then please consider becoming a PATRON - click the button below to support Emunaroma for just $1 a month.