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Inside Out

Parents, I offer this warning for your own good

Jeanne Sager
Posted 8/9/22

Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down (for an afternoon at least).

And I’d like to take a minute — just sit right there — I’ll tell you …

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Inside Out

Parents, I offer this warning for your own good

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Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down (for an afternoon at least).

And I’d like to take a minute — just sit right there — I’ll tell you how I became the queen of “Hoarders, Beware.”

The goal was a trashbag full, or maybe even two.

After renovating our hall closet and turning it into an organized oasis, I’d set my sights on the closet in what’s come to be known as “the dog room” in my house (thus named because it’s where our dog crates are kept).

Like most homeowners whose home dates back decades, updating has become a near constant chore for us. We’re down to just two more closets that need to come into this century, and I’ve been saving the dog room for the end for a reason.

It’s big. It’s got potential. But it’s also become a catch-all for everything from photo frames for my photography business to tools to those boxes from electronics that we can’t seem to part with to odds and ends that I never meant to keep but somehow never threw away.

Hence the hopes that we’d have a few bags of trash to haul away come trash day.

Here comes my second mistake (more on the first soon).

I asked my teenager to dedicate some of their summer downtime to emptying the closet so we could tackle the walls with spackle and paint.

Simple enough chore for a kid done with driver’s ed and only working a few days per week at their summer job, right?

But I forgot about my first mistake: Alongside the aforementioned detritus of homeowner life plus a random 3 foot stretch of chicken wire, a pile of board books I’d been saving for the next time I was invited to a baby shower, and approximately 731 hangers of assorted size and color, I’d been using the dog room closet to store boxes full of my teenager stuff.

You know the teeenager stuff. The scrapbooks filled with inside jokes cut from magazines. The photos of oh so proud kids toasting with wine glasses filled with iced tea. The printed emails from the 90s when email was new and we had yet to build our digital wasteland of endless files saved to the cloud for a rainy day that will never come. The bad hair. The even worse clothes.

The 90s arrived in my dog room this week, spilled out into the hallway, and carried on into my office, courtesy of a teenager whose boring summer downtime had suddenly become very, VERY interesting.

I was treated to (devastatingly) bad poetry readings, recitations of mushy cards from my then boyfriend (now husband), and performances of teen letters decrying the most serious of friendship woes (a girl called another girl by someone else’s name FIVE times ... brutal).

I got updates on my husband’s SAT scores and what I’d scored on my own high school Regents tests. I was informed that the teenager outscored us both. At least we did something right.

There were emails read out loud through laughter so raucous it was hard to understand and items held high with nothing more than the type of side-eye only a teenager can proffer.

And I suffered through it all, for hours on end.

But you? You don’t have to be like me.

Go now to the closest cache of teenage memories and clear them out, quickly and without hesitation. Let my mistakes be your warning: Our hair was bad, our clothes were bad, and our kids are just waiting for the chance to remind us!

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