As a mother. there are now two things that I know for sure work.
The first I just figured out. If you have, as I do, a houseful of teenage boys, then those teenage boys take showers in direct proportion to whether or not they have a girlfriend or hope to have a girlfriend. This means they take a lot of showers. And upon exiting their showers, there is a good chance those boys will leave their towels in small heaps wherever they happen to be when they find their clothes. This is sometimes in front of their closets, but occasionally in the laundry room where they pick out of the clean piles of laundry only the items of clothes they need for that precise moment or possibly in front of their brother’s closet from which they have pilfered a clean t-shirt. The no-longer-needed towels are simply abandoned. When the boys encounter them, usually on their way to get a fresh towel from the linen closet, they step carefully over them. When you encounter them, you pick them up (if you are wise you use tongs) and take them to the laundry.
No matter how carefully you and your Mate may husband your towels for a week between washes, your efforts to conserve water, energy and time will all be for naught as your wastrel children discard towels with astonishing frequency. And the washing machine is always on, always running, always full of towels…
Or at least that’s what happened in our house. No matter how much I insisted that in the interests of all that is holy (my sanity first, global warming second), towels were only to be washed once a week, I was utterly and completely ignored.
Tricky little bastards. They had me. They knew it. They loved it. And they didn’t show they loved it. That’s how tricky they are.
It took me a while to figure out one part of the problem.
The quickest way to solve a problem you have with your children is to figure out how you are part of the problem.
In this case, I realized that, like a simpleton, I had for some reason (I’m sure I had a reason) bought all our towels in the same shade of khaki. It was thus impossible to determine who was responsible for any
of the many towels that popped up all over our floors like a pride of
prairie dogs. When accosted, in a rare show of solidarity, all the
boys claimed innocence and refused to rat each other out.
I was stymied. Drat them.
And then the solution, like Diana from the forehead of Zeus, sprung fully formed from my head. Blindly obeying my stroke of genius, I hopped in the car and headed to Bed, Bath and Beyond. There, I purchased two towels in each child’s favorite color. As I handed Oldest his blue towels, and Middle his red towels, and Youngest his white towels, I told them that from now on they were to only use their own towels and those towels would be washed once a week and that if they wanted to leave their towels on the floor, I did not have a problem with that.
Then I took all the other towels out of the linen closet.
And hid them.