What’s the best way to survive in a last-minute, disorganized world when you’re not that way? We’re running late getting to school and work and my daughter frantically rips through her backpack, pocketbook, and some other loaded bag looking for the flash drive she needs today. At my job, there is always a whirl of last-minute changes. The lawyer’s office’s version of what Monday will bring still isn’t set.

It’s easy to answer the question regarding the last two situations. You have to adjust to the work environment. This is the way the legal system works, although I don’t want to be like the transvestite in And Justice for All.

The daughter situation seems trickier. But is it?

In 2002, Jay Giedd, a neuroscientist at the National Institute of Mental Health, said:

 I think that [in the teen years, this] part of the brain that is helping organization, planning and strategizing is not done being built… It’s sort of unfair to expect [ teens] to have adult levels of organizational skills or decision-making before their brains are finished being built.

So, should I make a lot of copies of that quote for her to hand in to teachers if her assignments aren’t done on time? To bosses of summer jobs if she forgets to set the alarm?

You know, this is the first time in history that these people with incompletely-formed brains had so much stuff. My mom grew up during the Depression. She was psyched to get a tangerine in the toe of her stocking at Christmas. Even if she had saved the pits and peels as souvenirs of Santa’s visit, she would have had less than a millionth of what my daughter owns. No evolution to manage all this stuff can happen in 75 years.

So I guess I’ll be adaptable with my teenager, too. Not so rigid that I’m a stressor to her, and not so lax that I’m not helping her learn to adjust to the demands of society. I’ll just be reasonable.  I’ll give her a break at times, let her take the consequences of disorganization at other times, and do some nagging now and then.

And for me, I’ll try to take a little time each day to create a little world of order for myself.

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