As you may recall, I have a dilemma on my hands. But before I get to the state of the boys' bathroom floor, I thought I'd include some of my favorite readers into the conversation.
And Rahul chimed in with:
They both bring up what must surely be the first question any parent interested in underparenting should ask. To wit: is any action necessary?
I think Alesia's approach might work really well with younger kids. With my giants, who don't actually have to ask for very much anymore (Middle just gets in the car and drives himself somewhere when he wants to go), not so much. The problem is that a) I would have to wait around until they need something from me and b) all that time I would be, shall we say, pissed.
I have actually taken Rahul's approach with their rooms (for the most part). As such, it is not uncommon for their doorways to be partially or fully blocked by piles of dirty clothes, wet towels, discarded homework and all manner of detritus. But the bathroom is used regularly by everyone who comes to the house. It is communal space and thus, I think, needs to be treated with more respect than the trash cans they call their rooms.
After giving some props to Calvin & Hobbes (don't get me wrong, I love C&H and agree there are some sophisticated concepts in it, but he has been reading it for TWO YEARS. It's not Heidegger, for God's sake!), Laura wrote:
This brings up something that is essential to this idea of underparenting. Less is more, but it is not necessarily nothing. See above in regards to the communal space. Also, given how much time these boys spend surrounded by electronic noise (they can do homework while simultaneously texting, IMing, video chatting, and relentlessly reshuffling their iPods), the bathroom may be the only place they actually read and do just one other thing. As such, the reading material in there may actually snag more of their attention than anything else in their lives.
So, here's what I did. I told them at breakfast that anything left on the floor would be confiscated and the owner would have to pay an as yet undetermined fine. After they left for school, I picked up both books, the shorts and the boxers and hid them. And just so they wouldn't go through withdrawal, I put two copies of Rowing News on the bathroom shelf.
Hey! I think this is progress. The reading material is actually off the floor! Someone had pulled the stool over to more easily read the smaller magazine type, there are no clothes on the floor. Could it possibly be that easy?