So yesterday, it all starts with a sock. Three, actually.
My husband comes in, "I only have three socks left. Where are all the socks???" <cringe>
My 16 year old son has been doing the laundry now, pretty much exclusively, for around a year. This isn't just to teach him responsibility and give him his fair share in the household's chore distribution, but also because of some problems I have had related to some back "issues." Not that it would be child abuse to just make him do it on its own merit, considering we're rounding the corner on 17 and not much closer to a JOB....even though he is quite attached to his car ownership status. But don't get me started on that....
"Well, I don't know what to tell you, sweetie. Have you checked the sock graveyard?" The sock graveyard is where all the single socks go to die while they wait for their mates. Kinda a sad place, really. You would think that some of them would eventually hook up with each other.....out of boredom, or necessity...but no. Sadly they all insist on waiting for their soul mate. Yes, plenty of pun intended.
Three minutes later, hubby comes back yelling blasphemies about his lack of matching socks and the abundance of single socks available. I try to calm the baby down who is convinced all the yelling means SHE is in trouble. (Not THIS time sweetie...but don't get too comfortable...)
I know we're in for trouble when he comes back down the hall after a ten second look inside my son's room. "Are those clothes piled up on his chair CLEAN?" Define "clean."
Actually this is the perpetual clean clothes pile that sits on the abandoned "gaming chair" (you know, the ones that look like executive chairs without legs, and that kinda rock on the floor and have speakers built in that never worked?), just inside his bedroom door. I've trained myself to not SEE this chair. Most of the time. Only because I value my sliver of sanity they haven't robbed me of.
An hour later and after I have cursed at the middle of the room and yelled the DESERVED blasphemies-this time-at baby girl who has found every imaginable way to get into trouble, I get brave enough to leave the den for the long, dark trek down the hallway to see what exactly he has been doing in my son's room. I've watched him make forty-five trips between the house and the garage, carrying all manner of wiring and power tools and miscellany. When I enter, he is down on the floor, behind my son's dresser that he has pulled out, using his power drill around where the cable/electrical outlets are on the wall.
"What are you doing?"
Wrrr! Wrrrr! "Undoing what I just DID." Wrr. <Evil look tossed behind the shoulder>
How badly do I want to know.....well, I always was a little more curious than was good for me...
"What is it that you DID?"
"Turned the power off to his room....." He knows I've discouraged doing this for a while now. Not as much because I worry about my poor baby not having a light or his Wii to keep him warm (in the 80 degree November we are having). But more because I would rather throw a few pages or a chapter than the whole book at him, because then we are left holding nothing with which to attack or defend.
The next few minutes are spent with my dear husband and precious, inquisitive three year old baby girl, sitting in my son's room, discussing the difficulties and challenges of parenting teenagers these days, and how age and physical disability add to the hardships, as well as what things children deserve and/or are entitled to. A rousing, lively discussion between two rational, college-educated adults.
That ended with me dumping my son's entire room and closet onto his bed. Which wasn't made. And I don't BELIEVE the sheets had been washed in three months regardless of what he told me. With my daughter stealing whatever bits of old toys she could scavenge off the pile and bits of rubble on the floor.
Several hours later, when my son got home from school, he came to visit me in my office as he does every day when he returns home. Being a much more mild-tempered child than his mother, his reaction both surprised and didn't surprise me.
"Hi baby." <cheerfully>
"So, what's up?"
<Swivel in chair to face him>
<Incredulous yet dramatically-feigning-ignorance grin>
"Oh, same old, same old. What's up with you?" <large, toothy grin>
"Yeah." <looking nonplussed> "What's up with all the stuff in my room?"
No, seriously. He actually does this. Deadpan face, monotone voice. Complete absence of emotion. I often have to scratch my head and wonder where he actually CAME from....and if he didn't share my own passion for analyzing people's grammar and criticizing their vocabularies, I would swear they had switched him at the hospital.
I try to wipe the look of disappointment off of my face, that his reaction wasn't bigger in response to all the work I had put into scraping out the candy wrappers from under his bed and 4th grade papers from his closet and managing to get it ALL in one general spot, in an effort to dramatically "plant my flag" and show that indeed, though I may APPEAR to be ridiculous and completely insane, I was in fact, rather, his MOTHER. The woman that has cared for, and carried, and nurtured, and defended him for sixteen LOOONNNGGG years....despite being met with abject defiance over nearly every issue....particularly my repeated requests for a little care and competence to be taken in performing daily chores and basic maintenance tasks (such as cleaning one's room). I try to suppress the lecture, wanting the scene to speak for ITSELF. Instead, I want to appear cheerful, as though a weight has been lifted from me, and just crazy enough to make him worry what I might do next.
He continues to stare at me blankly, waiting for an answer. I smile.
"Oh, yeah. I was just trying to find a sock...."