What do you do when you turn around and realize that your truly wonderful, generous, sweet child has become a bit of a, you know, lump?
I’m not talking about weight gain.
I’m talking about sitting there. Or lying there. Curled around a laptop computer. Or cell phone. Surrounded by dirty dishes. A half-full cup of juice or tea balancing. A peach pit to the side.
Wait a second. Make that a laptop computer only. Because at about 1 a.m. the child realizes he or she has lost their cell phone.
They don’t know how it could have happened.
It being 1 a.m. you don’t feel like starting a lengthy discourse on the demerits of a bag (used as purse or messenger bag) that doesn’t close and from which you, as parent, have repeatedly witnessed things fall.
But seriously, how did it happen?
I’m not talking about the loss of the cell phone.
It’s possible that some single parents are stern taskmasters. They know they can’t do everything and make that clear to their children at an early age. They inculcate chores.
But some single parents (ahem) find it easier to just do the chores themselves. They hate to cajole, nag, fight. Such single parents value the household harmony achieved from separation from a mate; they can’t bear to disturb that peace with harsh words about undone dishes, unclean rooms, untaken-out garbage. “You’ve got to choose your battles,” such parents insist.
And then these parents are surprised by the sudden realization that there is a bit of a lump sitting on the couch. Texting or IMing into the night. Surrounded by food-smudged dishware. Who’s just misplaced something.
Boot camp is difficult to carry out. A maiden aunt may be useful in this area. Or a martial arts instructor.
Or maybe you yourself can muster the requisite sternness. Consistency can be hard to maintain for a single parent who has, historically, hated confrontation, but it’s worth a try.
Because here’s the point: one some level, the missing cell phone is actually the byproduct of the sofa’s dirty dishes. An extension of parentally-enabled inattention.
But how to impress that fact on a child, a truly wonderful child, who’s somehow gotten, well, just a little bit lumpy?
You may have to get really quite mad.
(At a certain point, this can generally be arranged.)
FINAL NOTE – Many single parents (i.e. people like me) have repeatedly through their lives lost cell phones, keys, wallets, keys, glasses, credit cards, keys, clothing, dog leashes, keys, important documents, credit cards, glasses, keys, etc., even when they pride themselves on their dish-doing, and would hate for people to characterize them as in any way lumpy. So all tongue in cheek, please.
Check out 1 Mississippi at link above.