NZ Woman's Weekly

Tidy teens

In a bizarre and unexpected turn of events, the teenage daughter has turned tidy. Though it may be that she’s only taking a turn at being tidy – just for a change and probably not for long. Still, a father can dream can’t he? And please don’t go thinking I’m one of those people who’s a bit nutty about keeping things tidy – a bit obsessive, even. I’m not one of those people. I just like to keep things from getting completely out of hand.

I love my wife and my youngest daughter dearly, but they do offer considerable challenges to a chap who likes to be able to walk across a bedroom without becoming entangled in drifts of discarded clothes. It’s pathetic, I know.

But, if the daughter’s recent behaviour is anything to go by, a change might be coming. As suggested, it was the last thing I expected. I was left a little stunned when the daughter asked me, out of the blue, what she should use to clean the windows in her room.

I gave her a cloth and cleaner and followed her in there where I found, to my shock, that she’d already scrubbed and tidied up, and biffed out all sorts of old stuff without, apparently, a backward glance.

“Good grief, I forgot you had that desk,” I told her, pointing to the previously hidden piece of furniture. She rolled her eyes and turned to the windows. She reckoned there was a view out there somewhere and she seemed determined to find it.

There is, of course, a downside to all this. No sooner had she cleaned the insides of her windows than she was demanding I get out there and do the outsides. I wasn’t so sure. Her windows are a long way up from the ground. I’d have to involve a ladder. A long one.

Then she wanted to know how soon I could paint her shelves white, which I’d promised a while back. I told her, “Give me a week,” but she said sooner would be better. She seemed to be on a mission – a mission of tidiness. When it comes to teenagers, this sort of behaviour could be a sign of maturity or it could simply be surging hormones. There was strong evidence of the latter when the daughter announced at one point, “I like cleaning.”

Poor thing – obviously quite mad, and quite suddenly too. Maybe it’s something to do with being about to turn 14. If, by some miracle, it turns out that my tidy daughter isn’t suffering some temporary insanity, she could well want to turn to other areas of personal improvement. I’m not sure how far I should go with such crazy dreams but, as I said, a father sometimes can’t help himself.

So I’m bracing myself for the sight of finding the daughter happy at the kitchen bench, doing the dishes, or pondering how a girl might go about washing the parents’ cars, just because she feels like doing it. Or niceness – there might be an outbreak of niceness. Teenagers can be a bit unfriendly to the parents, so some niceness would be… nice, actually.

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Jenny-May’s magical day

In this week's issue of New Zealand Woman's Weekly magazine: Jenny-May shares her magical day!

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