The kids (aka: "It’s My Turn to Bitch")

Posted: February 20, 2007 in Journal, kids

I was browsing through my archives the other day, reading back through my history as a stepmother. It’s been a while since I updated in any step-parenty sort of way. That would be because my feelings toward them alternate between tearing frustration and amused tolerance, and I usually experience several swipes of the pendulum daily.

I know it’s a huge failing of parenthood to assume that “doing it MY way” is the only way “it” is done. With that said, I do believe that Calvin and I are pretty good parents, and pretty good human beings in general. We have our heads mostly screwed on straight, and in the areas where they are not screwed on straight, we can be termed “eccentric” or “progressive”. “Fabulous”, even.

So. When we explain, and re-explain, and re-RE-explain, how to do things thus and how to address things such and how to prioritize things so, it is because we have indeed been there, and have actually done that, and presently enjoy the sort of mostly-successful and responsible lifestyle that comes with not making too many fucked up decisions. And so we try to impart this hard-won wisdom onto our innocent, fragile, dumbass somewhat naive children.

Who think they know everything already, and the speed at which the words, “I knooo-oowww” depart in their singsongy way from the fucking sarcastic lilting throats of our beloved children, well, it is something to behold. One is truly left thinking that they do indeed know, and how very presumptuous of us to even try to instruct such genius when, clearly, they have it all figured out.

Really, we should be learning from them.

Many of my current complaints have occupied a comfortable spot in my determination for many years now. For example, any occasion that the kitchen gets cleaned at all by either child constitutes a minor miracle, much punctuated by martyr-ish sighs and slamming cupboard doors. The next child that puts a dirty dish into the cupboard will be WEARING that dirty dish. This is not a difficult lesson to learn. One would think that a single gentle reminder of, “Darling child, please do not put a dish away in the cupboard that is still encrusted with the remnants of a meal,” would suffice. Common sense, at the very least, would dictate that the putting away of a dirty dish is probably not the most intelligent thing to do. And yet, Calvin and I persevere, selecting one dish after another from out of the cupboard, and having to discard it in the sink in our search for a dish that is actually clean. We even understand that the dishwasher is on its last legs, but that does not entitle the Cleaner of the Kitchen to pretend that they “didn’t notice” that the dish was dirty when they put it away.

(Even now, Marie is reading this and yelling, “I don’t do that, Michael does!!!”)

The speed at which both children will throw the other under the bus during an argument or discussion is astonishing. If we start to get on Marie about needing to follow through with some plans for her life, she immediately throws Michael’s current circumstances into the conversation. If we remind Michael for the millionth time to take care of his chores, he immediately brings up Marie’s lack of discipline in that area. If either one senses that they are about to be brought under a negative spotlight, they bring up the other’s flaws immediately in an attempt to deflect the negativity onto their beloved sibling.

(Even now, Michael is reading this and yelling, “I don’t do that, Marie does!”)

Some somewhat newer complaints:

One of the conditions set upon both children of continuing to live in our household “rent free” after high school/military, was the requirement that said child be enrolled in college. Not even full time – part time will suffice. Marie started, and then dropped out because physically going to class on-campus was too much of a pain in the ass. So we told her as of the first semester of ’07 she was to be signed up in on-line classes at the very least. Today’s date is February 20th. She is not enrolled. Michael, too, expressed the desire to go to school after the military. He went through some machinations in order to claim the GI bill to pay for college. He’s been out of the military since last July. No progress there.

If I hear either one of the kids ever mention again EVER that they work harder than either Calvin or myself, they may not live to see the day when they do, indeed, work harder than either Calvin or myself.

If Michael smokes inside the house one more time, and pretends not to understand how we could possibly accuse him of such a sin when obviously he is SUCH a model child, he will discover what it feels like to smoke out of his ass.

If both kids don’t figure out how to start supporting themselves, hold down decent-paying jobs, and pay their bills, it is clear that the only choice Calvin and I will have is to sell the house out from under them, move to a different state, and not leave a forwarding address. I mean, as things stand today there will be no way possible for either kid to be on their own in the near future. They seem to think that holding status quo (living at home, minimum wage job) is fine and dandy, and what the hell are we complaining about? Plans? They don’t need no stinking plans.

Except that it’s high time that Michael be on his own, and Marie isn’t far behind him. One doesn’t just fall out of the front door of their parents’ house and fall right into success. Neither of them are poised to hit the ground running.

Of course, it’s not like we want to get rid of them or anything. Everyone who knows me and who reads this website is clear about the fact that Calvin and I adore the kids. They’d have to annoy us a whole hell of a lot more to make us love them any less, if that’s even possible. But, damn, people. I’m no saint, and I’ve gotta blow off some steam, here. If we could just see a little progress made, by either kid, there’d be a whole lot less frustration.

To throw some leaven in this lump (because I can’t dish out a whole lot of bad without throwing in at least a little good), I will say this:

Marie has been very responsible about her employment, and as far as I know is never late to work and never blows off her shift. She mentioned this morning that she might be laid off, and if that is the case I’m sure it’s not because of anything she did.

Michael has been steady in his job lately as well (after a rough start and several mornings of being late). If he’s overwhelmed by bill collectors and impending divorce, he is at least trying to keep a good attitude about things.

Both kids come and go as they please, all hours of the day and night. But they try to be quiet if they’re up when we’re in bed, the house isn’t destroyed in the morning when we get up, and they keep the traffic of friends coming and going to a minimum.

Finally, neither of them is an addict or has been arrested. And really, at the end of the day, what more can you ask for?

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