The Diary of The Brave (Some May Say Daft) Mother Who Cleaned Her Teenage Daughter's Bedroom.
Friday, Day 1: Daughter, 16, has left for school and will be going directly from school to German Language Camp. She will not pass her room, will not collect $200, and will not have a clue about what I am doing until she returns on Sunday afternoon.
Assemble all items that may or may not be needed. Dust cloths, Mr Sheen (not the Charlie variety; he gets dirty, not clean), disinfectant, wipes, broom, dustpan, vacuum cleaner, garbage bags, flea bomb, mousetrap, Febreze, scented candles, long-handled bbq tongs, paint scraper, gloves, face mask, goggles, phone numbers for State Emergency Services, Rentokil Pest Control, Drug & Poisons Unit, and Centre for Communicable Diseases.
Alert somebody that I am venturing into wild, uncharted territory alone. Wish I had a compass or a GPS. A trail of breadcrumbs maybe. A canary would have been good too. Momentarily ponder the thought of bringing in one of my Princess Parrots, but if they ever start breeding they will make me more money than my daughter ever will (I can sell their children, apparently I will go to jail if try to sell my daughter's). Say my goodbyes to Twitter and sort out posthumous distribution of my teapot collection.
Don safety gear and approach the door with caution. Not sure why, the door looks perfectly fine. Push door open and try not to cry. Survey damage. Clothes, shoes, books, folders, papers, cushions, stuffed toys, bags, socks, posters, hats, scarves, dvds, cds, and reindeer ears. And that's just the top layer. Which may or may not be moving; not sure if it's just my eyes watering or there is a sub-surface life form yet to be discovered.
Realise the odd feeling of movement is actually my own head spinning due to combination of odours; the smelly sock-type ones as well as the overpowering ones of her morning preparation. Deodorant, body spray, perfume, and quite possibly bubblegum. Oh…. no, I just trod on the gum.
Step out of room to remove the gum, steel my resolve and gulp some fresh air. Take a moment to wonder why it is that Aunties give teenage nieces cheap, putrid perfume instead of decent stuff. Do they think teenagers don't need to smell better than generic brand toilet freshener? Or is it some sort of long-awaited revenge on me for giving their kids tambourines, bongo drums and an electronic keyboard that got stuck on an "It's A Small World" loop when they were young?
Charge back into the room with bravado, gusto and a swig of Amaretto. Head down, bum up, attack the obvious first. Shoes. Check. Clothes. Check. Socks. This is where the bbq tongs come in very useful. Straight to washing machine. No wonder she's been borrowing my socks lately, she hasn't picked up any of hers for approximately eleven dog years.
Get the strange feeling I'm being watched. Come to the conclusion that all of the vampire, witch, wizard, werewolf, gangster and rockstar eyes in posters on the wall are following me around the room, mocking me. Collectively, they are a Threatening of Teen Icons. Thankfully no Efron or Bieber in sight.
A second layer of clutter begins to emerge. One of empty chocolate and lolly wrappers, Lipton Iced Tea bottles and milk drink cartons. Eeeew. Shit. Except for that one, that's not quite empty and it's no longer milk. Make mental note to pass that on to my friend who works in the Immunology Department of IMVS, it may be required for a lab experiment.
Books put away and random surplus posters which had been lying on the floor since the dawn of Girlfriend Magazine are tightly rolled up and tucked neatly in the corner. A discovery. Fairy wings. Yikes. I gave them to her when she was 4. She has worn them only ONCE when I made her. I thought they were beautiful. Now they just look like cheap pink stockings stretched over wing-shaped wire coathangers, which have been finger-painted with gold glitter by hyperactive toddlers. Bin.
A couple of hours in (I had a brief Twitter break after an hour to let people know I still had a pulse) and most major items have been returned to their rightful place, or forwarded to Waste Management Services. Surfaces cleared, during which an actual, functional desk was revealed hibernating in the corner; dusting, polishing, disinfecting and armour-coating commences.
Phone rings, washing needs to be brought in…. one thing leads to another glass of wine and day one of Operation Fumigation draws to a close.
Saturday, Day 2: A beautiful day. Bed stripped, linen washed, mattress and quilt aired. Replace photos, ornaments and knick-knacks onto now sparkling surfaces. Decide what to do with 'interesting' pottery creations she has brought home over the years. Internal debate rages over Aesthetics versus Sentiment. There is a clear winner. Shove them in a drawer.
Tidy up school books, bags, folders, papers and assignments into neat piles. The sun streams in and I catch a glimpse of something shiny out the corner of my eye. Bloody hell, a startling revelation. There really IS a polished floor in this room. It's been so long since I laid eyes on it. Try not to cry, again.
Sweep, vacuum, wash, remake bed, tidy up drawers, sort perfume (throw out the cheap shit), sort jewellery (see if she's pinched any of mine), sort nail polishes (see if I can pinch any of hers), and avoid eye contact with anything that looks remotely like a personal diary, a personal hygiene product, or a personal battery-operated device.
Slowly back out of the room, pulling door shut. Celebrate with vodka and pineapple. Over and over again.
Sunday, Day 3: Last minute check of the room, a bit of tweaking and a flourish of (my) expensive perfume. Done.
Daughter comes home, goes into room, dumps all her camp gear on the floor and comes out again. Not a word. Starts telling us about the weekend. Eventually Husband asks if she noticed anything.
With a roll of the eyes, "Yeah, I noticed Mum cleaned my room WITHOUT my permission. Where's all my stuff? And where the hell are my posters that were on the floor? You better not have rolled them up, I've spent months trying to flatten them out so I could put them up…."
Looking up 'ungrateful cow' in German...