I can not count the number of times that I have stood at the door to one of my children’s bedrooms and thought, with parental self-loathing, “I have totally failed as a parent. This child will never, ever be able to live in civilized society.”
I’m sure that you, dear reader, have much better trained children. However, for those of you who can relate to my sense of despair, I hope you will take heart and that one day you too will have a text conversation with your child like the one I am about to describe.
In case you are uncomfortable with me sharing the details of a private conversation with my offspring, this is the same child who regularly took screenshots of our text conversations and tweeted them out to the whole Twitter world….at least until I caught her and threatened to take away her smart phone that I pay for and replace it with a “stupid” phone. Plus, she is in a really good mood right now because she just got cast in her first college play. And even she knew it was funny. So she won’t mind, I swear.
Just to give you some context, when this particular child has something important to say or is feeling strong emotion, I get texts containing ALL CAPITAL LETTERS! And lots of exclamation marks!!!!!!! And very little punctuation. I received one of these texts last week regarding her frustration with her messy suitemates. I won’t quote verbatim, but it went something like this:
Frustrated Offspring: “NOONE WILL CLEAN EXCEPT FOR ME I AM SO DONE HOW HARD IS IT TO CLEAN YOUR DISHES AS SOON AS YOU USE THEM WHY IS THAT SO HARD”
(So, you can see my dilemma. Clearly, the child is distressed and needs to feel heard. But SERIOUSLY…)
What I said: “Wow, that must be so frustrating! It takes some adjusting to learn to live in community…blah, blah, blah….insert supportive Mom speak here.”
What I thought: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Furstrated Offspring: “I SWEAR I AM NOT, NOT, NOT DOING THE DISHES ANYMORE. THEY CAN JUST SIT THERE. I AM DONE” (insert additional ranting and outrage here)
What I said: “Have you shared with them how you are feeling? Here are some possible solutions: learn to ignore the mess and not let it bother you, continue to do the dishes as an act of love and service without expecting anything in return, murder them all in their sleep….”
What I thought: Good luck with that! I tried them all…
Slightly calmer, but still outraged offspring: “It is amazing. They agree to do their dishes but then they just put them in the sink like they just EXPECT that someone else will come along and do them!”
(Notice that due to my calm, loving demeanor, my listening ear and my gentle, playful and even humorous suggestions, the capital letters have stopped at this point in the conversation.)
What I said: Nothing, I was speechless for a moment. Doesn’t happen often and it generally passes quickly, but you can see my amazement at the beauty of this situation.
What I thought: This. Is. The. Best. There is justice in the universe.
But finally, I just can’t resist.
What I said, and I quote: “The irony of this conversation is just astounding.”
Capital Letters Again Offspring: “MOM, I KNOW! THOUGH YOU ARE MY MOMMY SO IT DOESN’T COUNT”
What I said: ROFL
And then I said, and meant every word: “You are adorable, I love you and I wish you were here to leave dirty dishes in my sink.”
But I do kinda love college.