Sunday, May 25, 2008

A bit disappointed

Carl's visit has been somewhat disappointing. I'm not sure what I expected. It is like he has never left. He is just like he was when he was 17.

He talks about all the people he should call and find time to visit, but does not call anyone. When I ask him to help me in the kitchen he says yes enthusiastically, comes in and asks me what I want him to do. I tell him to chop cucumbers and he does -- sloooowwwly and not all that well. Then he quietly walks out while my back is turned. I call him back and tell him to put the cucumbers into the yogurt, please. He does, and leaves again. I ask him to come back, put the yogurt and cucumbers on the table, and clean up the mess from the cucumbers. He does -- and leaves again. I ask him to please set the table.

He does and when it is time to eat Roland and I sit down, get back up to get glasses for everyone and serving utensils for, among other things, the cucumbers and yogurt.

Sigh. Evan or David would not necessarily think to do any of these things, but they would ask if there was anything else I needed. I know this is who Carl has always been, but he is 24 years old and I had expected some maturity.

When he is not avoiding helping he has been lying on the sofa watching Buffy episodes. Really. All day.

This morning he flies away again. I don't think he has spent any time talking with Andrew or Brian, except over meals.

I imagine it has been an emotionally stressful weekend for him. He misses us, and he doesn't know how to act with us. I remember going home and feeling like it was difficult not to be the child it seemed everyone expected me to be. I remember that it was work to forge a new identity and relationships with my family. I called my mother the other day and told her that I had been thinking about how frustrated she was when I was 18 and had come home from college for the first time and still wasn't helping more without being asked. She laughed.

She did confirm that by the time I was 24 I was no longer acting like a teenager though.

I love him. I do. But I am a little disappointed.

I need to take him back to the airport soon.


  1. I am with you on this one. Parenting adult children is not an easy task and one that we are often left to flail alone and try to find our way. No one talks about it much, but I am right there with you on this.
    Sometimes I just scratch my head and think, "didn't I teach them better than this?? I am sure I did!"

  2. Just moments ago my 21 y/o daughter asked me if I would do her laundry for her (something I am often willing to do as I do my own.) I was in the middle of vacuuming the room I just finished sanding and have yet to prime and paint. I gestured toward the room and said, "I'm a little busy." She said, "Oh, it doesn't have to be done today." I said, "I think you'll have to do your own laundry this weekend. I have a lot to do." She said, "Well so do I!"

    Was I wrong to be so astonished at her response? Was I expecting my mother to do my personal chores when I was her age? I don't think so. But then again, I didn't live at home at her age.

    I pointed out, gently, that her laundry was her responsibility, not mine, and she walked away in a huff.

  3. I wonder if he just slipped back into his own role when he went to your house. A bit of comfort, maybe? Does Carl live on his own now? If so, he must have to have more maturity when in his own place. At your house, it might feel nice to be parented again. I know there's no comparison, but Slugger eats up anything that's "parenting." Maybe Carl was craving a bit of the same old same old.

  4. I grew up in a "normal" household--or at least I had none of the turmoil your kids have had--and even so, I have a very hard time not regressing when I visit my parents for more than an afternoon, and I am almost 40! I love my parents, but only a very conscious effort keeps me from behaving like a 14 year old when I am there.

  5. I have to be honest--I don't help out at my parents when I visit as much as I should because I want to be on vacation! At home, I have to cook, clean up, get out the dishes, empty the dishwasher, etc. I don't want to on vacation!

    I was just thinking about this when I was there a month ago. ;-) However, I did offer to help and always followed through on whatever it was I did.

    I think I help out less the older I get. Isn't that awful?


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