how to mortify a sixteen-year-old

About once a year I give up nagging Mouse,settling for half-measures, ignoring things hidden under the bed and chucked randomly into chests of drawers and cupboards and I help him to tidy and clean his room properly. I do this in the sure and certain knowledge that it will last about three weeks before he is once again failing to dust properly and putting all his clothes in the bottom drawer unsorted and unfolded.

I have admirable friends who would not do this for their teenage sons and who say 'Just close the door', and I know that it is ridiculous to spend a whole day sorting out his room when he can't be bothered to keep it like that – in fact, shamed as I am I usually wait until Handsome is away from home (as he is this week) because I would (and will) have to justify myself to him.

But the truth is that there are three main reasons why I do this – firstly I am allergic to dust, and so is Mouse, who sneezed wonderfully though most of the day and currently has very red eyes – I took double antihistamines this morning… secondly his room is visible (assuming he's drawn the curtains) to anyone who comes to the front door, and lastly I just can't stand his room being in a state all the time. I really can't.

Revenge is sweet however. The constant sneezing was good, because it gave me the chance to point out many, many times that it was his own fault, but below is my real vengeance…

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