Renovations and Teenage Responsibility

Our house is 45 years old. There are five good-sized bedrooms on the second story. When we bought it 21 years ago we had five children. We knew we wanted more kids, and the realtor was a little incredulous when I calculated how many kids each bedroom could comfortably hold. I figured we had room for 10 – not that I wanted THAT many, but it was comforting to know we had ample space.

When we bought the house it was owned by an elderly gentleman whose wife had passed away and whose four children had grown up and moved out. I don’t think there had been a speck of upkeep done on the house. It was pretty much a liveable disaster area. We knew we’d eventually have to do renovations to stay here.  Perfect, you may say, for a family with five children.

Many of you know we had two more children, and for a short time all of them lived here. After we had been here for about 8 years, when tiles started falling off the bathroom walls, we dug deep and found the money to start renovations, starting with the children’s bathroom.  It was scary. We gutted it to studs, tore out the floor, and started over. Because of the things we think we found behind baseboards and in the walls – we could not identify them for sure –  we probably should have worn full hazmat suits!

Fast forward to this week. After 13 years, their bathroom needs it again. The paint is starting to show the effects of too many steamy showers, so here we go. We only have two teens at home now – so perhaps this will be the last time we need to do renovations on this room.

You may be wondering what all this has to do with the title of this post, “Renovations and Responsibility.” The teens keep asking me to help them get their driver’s licenses so they can drive MY car. While it would be lovely to have them chauffeur themselves to church activities and school events, the fact of the matter is – their bathroom is a biohazard dump. As I’ve dismantled the bathroom to paint it it has become obvious that I have failed as a parent. I need to teach my kids how to clean a bathroom properly. Their idea of cleaning it and caring for it is absolutely frightening. They have no sense of responsibility for their bathroom – what makes them think I’d trust them with MY 2005 Chev Cavalier?  I’ve contemplated building a shed out back, putting in a composting camp toilet for them, telling them to shower at the local pool, and banning them from the indoor facilities. That, at least, would keep the bathroom clean.

That cleaning lesson, my friends, will happen next week. Once renovations are done, the lesson in responsibility will begin. It will be followed by weekly inspections with penalties for slacking off – they will have to pay me ‘professional plus’ housecleaner fees to clean their biffy.

What’s the most frightening discovery you’ve made when redecorating or renovating?

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