By Marla Jo Fisher, The Orange County Register
Parents everywhere, you might want to read this.
I recently conducted an Extremely Scientific Survey of 1,848 teenage kids, all of whom were crammed into my son’s bedroom at the time.
I asked them to identify the best thing to do with a wrapper once its initial contents have been removed.
Examples cited were empty Doritos bags, plastic water bottles, In-N-Out hamburger wrappers, McDonalds shake cups and the like.
Here is a summary of their responses:
- 1,791 kids said you should “drop it on the floor.”
- 48 kids said you should “drop it onto the nearest available surface.”
- Six kids said you should “put it in the trash but only when your mom is looking.”
- One kid said you should “light it on fire and see if it’ll burn.” (That child is now banned from my house).
- Two kids said you should “always put it in the trash receptacle.”
Now, you understand, I didn’t actually see those last two kids. They were in the back of the room, and any evidence they exist may have been retouched, like those photos of the Loch Ness Monster or the Yeti.
I would, however, like to believe that they are real. Sort of like I hope that there are politicians who don’t lie and my bank really does care about me when I’m on hold.
For any foreigners reading this, I would like to explain that these are average American suburban kids, who actually are probably familiar with the concept of a trash can and have likely seen many in their lives.
If we were in Switzerland, things would be different, because that is a country so obsessed with cleanliness their highways are cleaner than my dining room table.
I was in Lucerne once when it was snowing, where shopkeepers were so outraged that snowflakes were defiling their sidewalks that they were out there sweeping them off while flakes were still falling.
I can only imagine what would happen to a teenager there who dared to drop a Twinkies wrapper on the ground. They might sit him down and force him to listen to yodeling for 24 consecutive hours, or eat nothing but fondue.
Here in America, though, I don’t know how much upbringing contributes to this teenage interest in decorating our fine nation with potato chip bags and Ho Ho wrappers.
I have nagged my children continuously for 10 years about using the trash can, with only limited results. I recently decided the only thing to do is stop buying things that come in wrappers. It’s healthier to eat fresh food anyway, not to mention cheaper, so no more $200 trips to Costco, thank you very much.
There are still times, though, when we have to eat on the go.
In my antique Toyota 4Runner, my kids just fling things into the back trunk area. If they fall behind the soccer chairs and beach blankets that live there permanently, I can go a year without finding them.
Unless it’s an orange I have given them to eat. Then it will eventually make its aromatic presence known.
This continues to be a vexing problem of great scientific interest to me, and probably too many parents out there. The study I mentioned was conducted with a grant from the Parents Are Not Too Stupid (PANTS) organization that I recently founded.
If you’ve devised a solution, email me, and if it’s brilliant enough, I’ll publish it.
Sorry, duct-taping their arms to their sides is probably illegal and just wrong anyway.
But any other solution is welcome.
Marla Jo Fisher was a workaholic before she adopted two foster kids several years ago. Now she juggles work and single parenting, while being exhorted from everywhere to be thinner, smarter, sexier, healthier, more frugal, a better mom, better dressed and a tidier housekeeper. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read her blog at http://themomblog.freedomblogging.com/category/frumpy-middleaged-mom-marla-jo-fisher/.