It’s 3.21 a.m. and the door to Junior’s den has just slammed. No, he’s not in a paddy. That’s just his normal way of closing a door when no one is around. Why close it gently when you can kick it shut? The old folk are in bed so ‘Out of sight, out of mind.’ The fact that he might wake one of us up would just never occur to him.
This is a large part of the secret as to why living with a teenager (in his case 21 going on 18!) can be so difficult. It is their age that causes the problem. Well Duh! We all know that, Scriptor. No, what I really mean to say is their lack of age. Lack of age equals – in many cases – lack of experiences that we have had for years and take for granted.
We have brought up children. Therefore we know how horrible it is to be woken night after night after night after night after... Well you get the picture. Therefore, if someone is asleep in the house – at whatever hour – we tend to take their need for sleep into account and tiptoe around a bit. Hoovering (i.e. vacuuming – is Hoovering a particularly UK phrase?) at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning would suit my lifestyle but it would never occur to me to do it because it would wake Partner-who-loves-tea. She likes to lie in on a Sunday morning.
Junior has never had the delights of being woken night after night after night... So waking someone up to ask if they know where his clean socks have all gone is no big deal to him. After all, he needs the socks and the parent can just go off to sleep again, can’t they. No they damn well can’t. Once woken it ain’t so easy at our age to drift back into the arms of Morpheus or whoever’s arms we happened to be dreaming about at the time. (His clean socks, by the way, are non-existent. All 700 pair are currently dirty socks and are scattered down the back of the settee or behind the television in his den.)
So it is with many other things in life. Junior has not lived through those experiences which help us to put ourselves in the shoes of others and appreciate their needs.
Of late, Junior has been cooking his own meals more frequently. In order to do so he takes the appropriate pans and crockery and cutlery from their proper places and leaves them anywhere, dirty. We clean them and put them away. (Yes, I know more fool us but we need them as well.) So when he next needs them they are in the correct place. The magic fairy has been and put them back. If he lived on his own he would begin to appreciate that there isn’t really a magic fairy and he would need to clean them himself if he wanted to use them again. He has never lived on his own. He therefore lacks that experience. What we take for laziness is to some extent simply a failure to appreciate the needs of others and that he has a role to play in running the household.
Dropping crumbs and less pleasant articles of food on the kitchen floor while doing his cooking is another obvious example. Keeping the floor clean has never been one of his duties. Had it been so he would appreciate that picking up dropped items when they are dropped is easier than cleaning them up when they’ve been trodden on and ground in.
In a recent post, wise Auntie Gwen said “Choose your battles carefully”. All too often we pick on one particular thing that has upset us – a dirty pan that we needed, being woken by a slammed door. In these cases the battle we should really be fighting is to make our children more aware of the general needs of others in the household. Either that or changing the locks on the front door and allowing them to experience at first hand the things that we have learned over the years...