Once again, I’m in an ideal position to offer you some secret advice to make your life a little easier. No, I’m not turning my space in the big-time world of newsprint into a watered-down advice column. I’m still a humorist, but who says I can’t educate you and make you giggle at the same time? I’m going to tell you how to trick your teenagers into cleaning their rooms. See? Isn’t that one of the funniest — and most educational — things you’ve ever heard? Well, chuckle away and read on. I’ve got a technique that will actually work.
The secret to getting teenagers to clean up a room is to evict them. Get a hammer and tack a notice on your teen’s door: "You have 10 days to move to the room down the hall." Your teen will read this about twenty times before it sinks in, but that’s OK. On the 21st time, the message will become clear: "Oh, I’ve gotta move all my junk to a new room." Now, you’ve created a sense of urgency, but it helps if you tell your teen that the old room is infested with Mongolian Horned Termites and has to be fumigated. Just get those teens moving. That’s where the secret advice comes in. Teens don’t like hard work. For once in your life, use that fact to your advantage.
Let’s say you’ve convinced your son that he has to move. He’ll start with the most important items he owns: his video games. He’ll move all of them, but since this will smell a lot like "work," he’ll become nervous and fidgety and will wonder what else he "really" needs to move. And that’s the secret. He’s going to leave almost everything he owns — all the pizza boxes, pop bottles, magazines, and broken car parts — in his "old place." Once he moves into the new room and locks his door, go flush his old room. Just rip the carpet up and dump everything out the window. Dump it all, and don’t look back. Now you have two clean rooms and an exhausted teen. Is that sweet, or what? And in six months, evict him back to his old room and repeat the process. It’s a foolproof plan, but there are two warnings. First, make sure no one is standing under the window when you dump his bedroom out, and second, get ultra-cheap replacement carpet. You’re only going to need it for a very short time.
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Conyers, can be reached at email@example.com.