My almost 15 year old son recently had to spend 10 days in the basement, due to a member of his school testing positive for COVID-19 (he tested negative). During that time he had the run of the whole basement to himself: bedroom, hallway (with sink and mini-fridge), and bathroom. He erected a sheet halfway down the stairs to demark his territory, and we had a spot where we left him all of the food that he needed (and anything else).
For the most part he kept to himself and to his devices, coming halfway up the stairs to talk or see his siblings when he felt like it.
After the 10 days were over and he came upstairs, we tentatively ventured down…And were met with a complete mess. Rotting food floating in the sink. Garbage on the floor. Unbelievable stench. Dirty clothes everywhere.
So what is the proper way to respond to this? He is old enough to have take care of himself during this time, he knows about cleaning, and he knows that what he left us went over the line.
My partner approached this by going down with him, doing most of the initial cleaning (bringing up dirty laundry, filling three garbage bags) in his presence while talking with him, and getting him to participate by holding open the last garbage bag and walking out together to throw it away (and for this participation he was thanked).
Part of me thinks that he got off too easy. That even though he was on his own in the basement, he should still be held responsible for maintaining some minimal level of cleanliness (not expecting it to be spotless, but this was way beyond anything that we would tolerate in "normal" circumstances). However, as a teenager in his prime of exploring rebelliousness against his parents, I am hesitant to think that any direct reprimands or retaliatory punishment would effect anything other than an eye roll and sarcasm in return.
So what is the best way to respond to this? Is my partner's approach the best that we can hope for? Is there a different strategy to take in this circumstance?