09 March 2011

Life Skill-less

We went out to dinner with family and friends to celebrate the Captain's birthday. It was a lovely meal, start to finish, but I was tired when I got home. I'd spent the early part of the evening having a minor freak-out session concerning Two's research paper, and it left me depleted. I wasn't even really upset with Two, other than the usual "what do you mean you don't remember how she explained it?"  Because I couldn't understand the requirements, either.

We enlisted the smarter brains among us to try and figure it out, and ended up with a reasonable thesis that I emailed to the teacher, to see if we were on the right track. She was kind enough to answer me at 6:35 on a Sunday morning, so I let go of some of my resentment toward her. We are now on pace to complete it correctly. And by "we," I truly mean Two and I. We're doing it together, because his skills are lacking, and I don't want the kid to fail anymore. After this paper, at least he'll have an inkling, and can go out on his own.

I understand I've failed thus far in making my boys independent. I don't know if it stems from  having done so much for One, because of his physical and cognitive challenges, but I've been a straight-up careGIVER for all the rest of them as well.  It's left them with the lifeskills of mewling, newborn moles. I know I have to stop doing everything for them, but it's hard when it's faster that way.

We left the teenagers in charge of the little people while we were at dinner.  For reasons unknown, Four and Five go to bed without histrionics when Two is calling the shots. Perhaps he threatens bodily harm. I don't want to question it, because he's my babysitter-in-residence. I need him.

So, as mentioned, I was tired when I got home from the restaurant, and basically went straight to sleep. The next morning I went to check on Two and Three, to make sure they were actually in their beds. It's not that I anticipate them climbing out their bedroom window to sneak away with friends. It's more likely that I'll find Three asleep in front of a television, wasting my electricity.

I opened the door and found Three asleep on top of his comforter, with a throw blanket keeping him warm. I didn't understand why, until I looked over at Two, who was under his comforter, asleep on his mattress cover. I had stripped the beds, and hadn't replaced the sheets. And rather than get a new set, they had each chosen to sleep on the unmade beds. Many hours later, I woke Two and asked him why he didn't make his bed.

"It was late, and I like the way this feels," he answered, rubbing the mattress cover.
"That's nice," I answered sarcastically, "but you can save the passed-out-on-the-unmade-bed-motif for college. If you make it there."

I need to get busy with some home-schooling. Because if this is an example of their ability to reason, we're all screwed.


  1. Ah. My husband slept on an unmade bed in the guest room the other night because amid my vomiting and his birthday festivities i had washed and dried the sheets but not yet put them on the bed.

    Do support Two's research paper efforts. It's a higher order skill and will be necessary for a long time.

    But PLEASE as the soon-to-be mother of an infant as well as a 33 year old, I beg you to teach them how to do things for themselves!

    1. Put clothes in hamper
    2. Wash, dry, fold clothes
    3. Wash dishes and put away or at least load/unload dishwasher
    4. Develop an eye for things that need to be done (put cereal away, take trash out)

    In fact, I'll give you $1000 to come to my house and teach it to my husband. I will not question your methods even if you tase him. lol

  2. Anonymous9.3.11

    I am SO guilty of over-mothering (it's the sMothering I refer to often at my place). My best/worst example is of my super brilliant son and his orange. I sent it to school with him for a snack. Repeatedly. It kept returning. Finally, after nearly a full week I asked, "why do you keep giving this piece of fruit a ride to school, but never eating it?"
    His reply (keep in mind he was in the 7th grade, straight A student, football player, band member, I repeat: brilliant in nearly every way), "I can't open it."
    Coddeling them much?! (His [younger] sisters showed him how, on three different oranges, with several tools that were close to hand, including front teeth.)
    (who still does his laundry [he'll be 27 in two weeks], but not because he asked, because I insisted that it was stupid for him to pay nearly fifteen dollars every time he needed to dry one load)

  3. LOVE Five's Fail today-- he is such a Drama King-- and hugs to you :)

    Well, I think we're on more or less the same level of home schooling, Megan-- don't know if that makes you feel better or worse LOL. Don't be too hard on yourself because they're all good kids, at least that is what I tell myself. So far I have not been given reason to worry about negative life influences [from outside our family-- does not include the ones we've inflicted].

    I also feel that they need to figure some things out, which seems to be easier for Two that it has been for One, in my family. As bright as he is, his learning curve has been much longer. There is definitely a balance we must find as parents between helping them and letting them find their way. But I think you helping Two with this paper is a good thing, especially if it is laying the ground work for him to complete the next more independently.
    I struggle with getting them to become more considerate housemates but it is a daily battle. I do see little signs of success, so I'm going to continue but it sure feels like it's harder in my family than in some others I know. Definitely could have done something different earlier, and it sounds like lora96 will have the benefit of a do-over in that respect.

  4. Oh, the things my college students haven't learned.

    What I wish for them the most is a sense of situational awareness and the necessary combination of curiosity and initiative to figure things out for themselves.

    Does this conversation sound familiar to anyone? ;)

    Them: I can't do that. I don't know how.
    Me: Did you try to figure it out?
    Them: (crickets chirping)

  5. Okay, this is probably biased since I'm the fifth of seven kids in a family where both parents worked long hours. So, take it as you will.

    I married the product of a bored mother. (To be clear, you are not her. Please God, there's only one.) I say bored because the woman was a wife and mother. Period. She cared for her kids, she cared for the house June Cleaver style, that's it. Which, incidentally, has rendered her insane in her golden years. Just sayin. Anyway, six months before I married my husband, she tried to teach me how to pack his lunch. I declined the offer. Within six months of being married to me, he'd learned how to do laundry, clean a bathroom, load a dishwasher, and make his own damned sandwich. I am now militant about saving my future daughters-in-law this fate. Last week, I taught my 11 year old son how to wash a load of laundry. It may take more time now, but your reward will come later when you can avoid the task altogether. (That's the principal, anyway. I never said it was sound.)

  6. @Delia: I always tell my mother that her divorce was one of the best gifts, because it taught us all to be independent. We had to fend a little more for ourselves, and learn to do household tasks. Except my brother, who somehow managed to work the "I don't know how to do that," until he got to college and met a bunch of Marines. They taught him how to do a lot, and fastidiously, so he's a little nuts now, but very active in his house.

    I know the payoff is great, because we've had a taste of it. The first summer that Two learned to mow the lawn, the Captain and I stood out on the deck to appreciate the sound. Likewise with leaf-blowing. But I've got to get better about the day to day.

    And hey, fifth of seven! You wouldn't happen to be Irish Catholic now, would you Miss Delia? I'm crazy enough that I might have kept going, if not for medical intervention.

  7. Anonymous9.3.11

    I overmother because it saves time, and as single working mom I just don't have enough time. But lately I have really tried to put more responsibility on my son. It's an uphill climb. But I want him to marry a Lora or a Delia so I can't let him out of the house without some basic skills. :)

  8. Anonymous10.3.11

    Adult boy vs laundry update: he just sent me a text that said, "I found a huge stack of quarters. I only have one load so I'll do it downstairs in my building. See you tomorrow, and thanks again."


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