The ever-growing laundry pile…

TGG won’t budge.  Neither will I.  I have bypassed his laundry basket several times when working around the house, and I will continue to do so.  J thinks this is amusing.  When TGG gets home from work, we greet each other in the usual affectionate way, but a quick look over my shoulder tells him I haven’t washed a stitch of clothing belonging to him.  J looks from one to the other of us and smiles…

Because I am bound and determined to not jump in and save him from himself, I haven’t even checked if there’s toilet paper in his bathroom.  Don’t worry, there’s a caddy with plenty of extra TP in there, but by now it might be running low.  If TGG needs more, he will have to actually walk down to the garage and find the spot where we store a treasure trove of toilet paper.  I won’t tell him where it is.  I will tell him he needs to look for it.  Dada has said “well, nothing’s stopping him from going to buy some, right?”  I fail to see the downside of this alternative…extra toilet paper at no charge to us…hmmmmm…

We have also stopped worrying about whether we hear him move around upstairs after a certain time each morning.  We know he sets his alarm.  We can hear it blaring all the way down in the dining room.  We also know that there have been times when he has risen from his bed, turned it off, and crawled back in to sleep.  On Monday I sent Dada upstairs to check if he was stirring as we couldn’t hear him walking back and forth from his room to the bathroom.  He was up.  He was also being stealthy so he could go A-HA!!!!! when we slipped back into being “parents” and yelled at him for not getting up.  Since I was definitely not born yesterday, I wasn’t going to fall for that…  J, who doesn’t believe in people lingering in bed, inevitably opens TGG’s door on his way downstairs to leave for school.  The only adjustment we’ve convinced him to make is not leaving the glaring hallway lights on, but there’s no way to talk him out of trying to jostle TGG out of bed.  I can guarantee you we don’t put him up to this tactic.

This is neither all-out war nor cold war.  This is Mother Hen clucking a resounding NO to herself whenever she’s ready to swoop in and treat a chicken hawk as if he still was a baby chick.  This particular chicken hawk is more Henery Hawk than fierce hawk, by the way…

200px-Heneryhawk

 

Every morning I used to ask TGG if he wanted coffee, if he was having breakfast.  I always got a grumbled NO and “it’s too early.”  This morning, in light of a batch of chocolate chip scones I made yesterday, TGG bounced down the stairs asking what was for breakfast.  “You had me at chocolate chip,” he said.  I should put a bag of chocolate chips at the bottom of his laundry basket, at the bottom of the washer and dryer, and in his closet…but only after he has folded clothes and brought them upstairs to put away.

If you think I’m being intractable and unfair, welcome to the club.  TGG agrees with you.  He, after all, has to get his intractability from somewhere.  I don’t want him to merely acquiesce, though.  I want him to understand.  That, perhaps, is the most difficult thing for a parent to achieve.   I think this, among all the others, is our main struggle in the parent/child relationship.

Take, for example, J’s insistence on repeating a phrase or word over and over again until HE is satisfied.  Last night was such a night, my friends.  First we went through a constant repetition of a request for CANDY that was, of course, turned down in the same constantly repetitious way.  Before bed, the phrase was YELLOW BUS, but broken into YELLOW and BUS until we echoed the words.  This pattern usually lasts for about 20 repetitions per night…last night we went well over fifty repetitions.  Trying to get Dada and TGG to understand why I had to play along until J was satisfied was not easy, and it made me look more J-friendly than TGG-friendly.  I won’t give in to one kid, but I give in to the other.  I could tell that TGG was not particularly amused by my willingness to answer back through the closed door while J kept saying YELLOW and BUS.

I can reason with TGG.  I can’t always reason with J.  The burgeoning pile of laundry is not something that, until he’s ready, will alleviate an anxiety for TGG.  The repetition of words and phrases is soothing to J for reasons I can’t quite explain.  Repeating things, for J, is like “stroking the furry wall” in Get Him To The Greek; it brings him down from some sort of spin his mind is in, and I have to actually help him focus (which is what he’s trying to do) rather than leave him to obsess on his own.  There you have an instance of me absolutely NOT understanding something, but wanting to figure out what to do with it.  My way of negotiating these things with J has to be, because circumstances force it, different from how I negotiate with TGG, and yet…J gets a lot of my intractability, too.  I sometimes dig my heels in even though I know it’s going to create a temporary crisis in our midst because it is, in the long run, more productive to do so than to not do so at all.

It’s not that I don’t understand TGG.  I do.  I understand that he’s been forced, in many ways, to grow up beyond his years because of J.  I also understand that I have to, whether I like it or not, force a little more independence out of him if he is to claim his independence fully at all.  I am, I know he feels this way at times, the albatross around his neck, the main reason a covenant exists between him and his brother.  I have made it clear that this is a relationship that requires a great deal of commitment, and I’m sure TGG feels that he has some leeway to ease into adulthood at his leisure.  Regrettably, as John Lennon wisely put it, “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  At one point or another, that laundry basket will have to be addressed…

I’m adding chocolate chips to the list, just in case…

 

 

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