This has been a particularly unusual time in our household. Something very very very unusual has occurred. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I have no explanation. If I were of certain religious persuasion I might declare that a miracle has taken place. Or maybe the family has been quietly invaded by aliens who are influencing our environment. Poltergeists? Spirits? As the king in The King and I said so well… “it is a puzzlement!”
Having reached the years when others look to you for sage advice, or maybe just some gibberish that they later use when telling funny stories at parties they attend, I could wax eloquence with how my parenting skills can actually produce positive response. But I have screwed up so much in this area, that I don’t think I could get away with doing that. I am sure my kids will tell me to go wax the furniture.
What is most curious is the suddenness of it all. Like almost overnight things were immediately different. Yet, there’s been no coercion, no outside influence that I know of, no ominous signs or threats regarding the end of the world coming. As the king said…a puzzlement.
I often think that my influence on young people adheres to the principles of Newton’s Third Law. That’s the one that says “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” opposite being the operative word here. My kids never, okay practically never, would do what I asked them to do. And yes, they’d more than likely do the opposite. Their rooms were always a mess no matter how many times my wife and I attempted to have them keep things at least at a guerilla-cage level of standard. Getting a household chore accomplished or merely attempting to get everyone in the family to keep things in a civilized fashion was frustration to us and fantasy to the children. In fact, we were the only ones who fretted about these kinds of thing. The kids never let our nagging, yelling, kicking, punishing, murdering them affect their I-don’t-give-a-crap attitude.
So now this puzzlement. One of our granddaughters has been living with us since middle school. She’s 19 now, beginning college and working at Starbucks. She’s a lovely young lady except that she has always been a pig. I’m sorry, I guess I should be more tactful. I’m sorry again. It is what it is.
Repeating all the same mistakes and same resulting behavior we had with our own children, we have never been able to get our granddaughter to “contribute” to the welfare of the family environment. This means things like helping keep the place neat and orderly, loading or unloading the dishwasher, emptying a trash can now and then…the list goes on and on and on and on and on….I am sure most parents have been there/done that and don’t ever want to go and do again.
So, just as in a Hollywood script—one of those coming of age sagas—our lovely granddaughter has suddenly begun making her bed every day, cleaning her room daily, especially putting clothes away and—get this—at least four times I caught her emptying the dishwasher and cleaning up the sink. Yeah, I am speechless. It came out of nowhere. She told her friend how rewarding a feeling it was to make her bed each morning and how it makes the room look neat with so little effort. Her friend ain’t buyin’ it. Her friend ain’t part of the screenplay.
Meanwhile, I have made sure to point out to her how nice her room looks lately and how I appreciate her taking on some household chores without being asked. I have told her I can now go to the old age home a happy man…she has made my life complete.
But….it’s all still….a puzzlement.