The wrappers

I’ve been telling my eldest son for MONTHS AND MONTHS, if not years, not to leave wrappers in his pockets when he puts his trousers in the wash. Every single pair BULGING with wrappers. And not just wrappers. There’s tissues and school letters too. Each pocket has about six or eight items in it. I have no idea where some of those items come from, but they are there every time without fail.

Yes, I could check them. But why should I? It’s not actually my responsibility to do that. It’s my responsibility to wash them, but not to check them. And if I check them and empty them, how will he ever learn to do it himself?

When the trousers come out of the wash, several wrappers fall out of the machine and onto the floor. Some of the tissues and letters are mushed up. If we’re unlucky, they’ve messed up the rest of the washing.

As it’s winter, the trousers often go in the tumble drier. Remarkably, the wrappers often survive the tumble drier unscathed. But when I go to open it, they fall out all over the garage floor. It’s incredible just how many can build up in a short space of time.

And, yes, I could sweep them up. But why should I? It’s not actually my responsibility to do that. It’s my responsibility to dry the trousers, not to sweep the floor. And if I sweep it up, how will he ever learn not to put wrappers in his pockets?

So, one Sunday evening, when the garage floor was hidden under a mountain of wrappers, tissues and shredded letters from school (which may or may not have been important, I will ever know), I made the perfectly reasonable request that my son sweep them up.

So he can learn not to do it.

The request was met with standard teen grumbles and groans, but he grudgingly went to work.

Dustpan and brush, Son, Wrappers, Teenagers

Shortly, afterwards, there was an almighty crash.

And there was my son, lying on the hall floor, with the contents of the dustpan (formerly the contents of his pockets) strewn over the newly-hoovered carpet.

So I very calmly asked him to hoover up the smaller pieces and pick up the larger pieces.

But he lost the plot, yelling and stomping around. Apparently it was my fault as he’d tripped over a boot in the garage that belonged to me. The boot had gone in the garage ready to go for recycling. It had been put there by my husband.

And was in no way a trip hazard.

But it’s not possible to reason with a riled teen.

So he stomped upstairs, leaving the mess all over the carpet.

I spoke calmly to him (because I choose my battles now and don’t get angry) about the need to finish tidying up the mess he’d made.

I was met with shouts, screams and tears. Because it wasn’t his fault. And there was NO WAY he was clearing it up.

So my husband did it. I didn’t agree with that. I would have left it on the floor until my son calmed down and then quietly, but firmly repeated that he needed to clear up. But he didn’t have to. And he still hasn’t learned.

And now my husband is saying I should check the pockets for wrappers.

What do you think? My responsibility or my son’s? I know what I think!

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. I haven’t cracked this particular but myself, but how about just not washing any pants – sorry, trousers – that have stuff in the pockets? He’ll learn pretty soon.

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    • “This particular nut” !!
      … autocorrect woes ….

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    • That’s not a bad idea! He would soon run out of trousers. Thanks.

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  2. I think you are right, he should check them himself (and boo to your husband for not backing you up on that one!) . I too do all the washing, which is fine, but I do expect things that go in the washing basket to be ready for the wash. I check Syds pockets but everyone else is old enough to do their own! We do occasionally end up with a tissue in the wash and ugh what a joy that is! And I would have been with you on leaving the mess in the hall and asking him to clear it once he had calmed down , picking your moment being almost as important as picking your battles I say! Getting away with not doing it by having a strop just rewards the strop doesn’t it. Wow. I actually sound like a strict parent for once!! I really am not, a total softy, but I have been here with my teen when she was younger and letting her off the hook just meant she tried it again the next time, much quicker and less stressful once they realise that there is no getting out of it so they might as well just get it done now! Xx

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    • Thanks very much, you’re completely right! Go you, strict parent! They were my thoughts exactly. I don’t know why my husband caved so easily (probably because he didn’t want the mess there for potentially several hours).

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  3. Wow, your husband is way out of line not backing you up, but that’s a different blog post.
    Never having been a teenage boy I wonder if perhaps there is more going on with him than just getting stroppy over being asked to take personal responsibility for his clothes to be laundry ready. Sounds like he’s flipped rather dramatically over such a simple task, checking pockets isn’t difficult!
    He needs to take responsibility for himself, I’d have him empty the pockets in front of you until he can be trusted to do it himself without supervision, if he doesn’t like it he can wash his own clothes.

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    • I like that idea, thanks! He would soon get fed up of that and hopefully start to just do it automatically.
      Hopefully there’s nothing else going on in his life/ mind. You never know with teenagers as they don’t give much away!

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  4. It seems so silly that something as simple as emptying his pockets can turn into a full blown melt down like this but that is the joy of teens, huh?! I completely get where you’re coming from, it’s not too much to ask of him. I think I would have wanted him to clear it up too after he had calmed down but I also get why your husband would have maybe thought it wasn’t worth the hassle so just cleared it up himself! I don’t know what the answer is I’m afraid but I can see how frustrating this must be. I’m probably too soft with mine but I think if it was me, I’d still ask him to empty his pockets and if he didn’t, I would put the trousers back in his room if they appeared in the laundry with bulging pockets.

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    • Thanks very much. Putting them back in his room is a good idea! I try not to be too hard on him for some things as often the row it causes is disproportionate to the issue, but this seemed like it was a small enough issue that he should have been able to sort it out without too much fuss!

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  5. I’m with you and it’s a shame your husband didn’t back you up. I would also now check, and if there are wrappers in there…they don’t get washed and just stay in the basket. Man there is nothing worse than tissues all over the washing *passes gin*

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    • That’s very true! He gets fed up of tissues on his own clothes, but it still doesn’t stop him! I think leaving the trousers unwashed seems to be a very good option. Thanks.

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  6. I think I’d probably say that I wouldn’t wash trousers that had things in the pockets, although there’s the risk then that they wouldn’t ever get washed! Or else I’d empty the pockets out into his room or school bag, or over something important to him.

    I’ve just remembered how fed up I got with my husband eating an apple and leaving the stickers all over the work surfaces, I kept telling him over and over that if he didn’t throw them in the bin I’d stick one to his new precious iPad, as a threat it didn’t work but since I actually did stick one to the iPad (on the case, making sure I did it carefully!) he’s not done it since!

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    • I love that you did that with the apple stickers! It sounds like leaving the wrappers somewhere he doesn’t want them would be a good way of stopping him. Thanks.

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  7. Hmmm, sounds like a scene from our house and my son is 8!!

    I tend to give in too easily, while my husband stands firm, it’s so hard to know what to do for the best isn;t it?

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    • My husband and I tend to vary who is good cop and who is bad cop.
      Fingers crossed for you that your son has given this up by the time he’s 14!

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  8. Oh Sarah I had to giggle a little, it sounds just like my house. At least they get from the floor to the washing bin that drives me absolutely nuts at the moment x

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  9. I go with the easier to do it myself line and the problem with rejecting them is parental pride. We all prefer our children to look smart on a Monday morning, even if only for a few hours!

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  10. Oooooo not had to deal with wrappers in pockets before but have had to deal with a riled teen on many an occasion. I would personally check the pockets. But if there were wrappers I would put the trousers back in their bedroom until they were emptied. They will soon learn when they have no clean school trousers/jeans to wear. Good luck xx

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  11. I reckon just leaving them for him unwashed may work, once he has a bulging pocket that are looking a bit manky, he may want to empty them. Obviously that may not work though!!

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  12. I have one who does this and it is really annoying. I usually find them when I do the ironing and so I deal with it but if it is a tissue that has gone everywhere, I do get the offender to come and help clear up. I don’t think it is a lot to expect them to empty their pockets before they take their trousers off. I think that your husband should do the washing for a couple of weeks and see how he gets on maybe, it seems a bit unfair not to back you up.

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  13. He should check his pockets, but I’m not sure I’d expect it of my son yet, but your son is older so yes perhaps he should be. As for tidying up the mess I would agree with you. He should have done that and your husband shouldn’t have done it. I would have felt that undermined me.

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  14. My daughter is bad for this and always leaves random things in her blazer pockets – she manages to fit so much in them that it’s a wonder she isn’t weighted down by it all!

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