Our second child is now three months shy of twenty. He has secured his first full-time job with benefits. Like most twenty-year-olds, he thinks he knows most everything—or at least he ACTS like he knows most everything. And though he’s still living at home, with all the home field advantage, he thinks he should be able to live like he owns the field and can do everything he wants with no negative consequences. Wouldn’t THAT be nice?! Anybody know where a nearly 54 year old woman and her nearly 59 year old husband can find such a set up? Count us in!
Well, my husband and I feel just a tad like we should oh so GENTLY give our know-it-all wanna-be-just-independent-enough-to-have-what-I-want-when-I-want-it-with- absolutely-no-negative-consequences SON a tiny taste of REALITY! So, here we go . . . ROUND, um, I don’t know . . . I’m just guessing . . . um, ROUND 365 in the past 365? Really, I’m exaggerating. This is not REALLY a DAILY occurrence around here. Really, he’s a great young man just trying to find himself and his way, teeter-tottering between dependence and independence.
So, you should know, we use HUMOR around here to get points across. And this Z-man has given me complete permission to post this piece because he made me write it, print it out for him to review, edit, delete, approve, disapprove, hold me hostage, etc. AND we negotiated a contract—signed—in blood—by moi (that’s ME, in French) that if this piece EVER gets published and produces some moolah (that’s MONEY, in French, I think?), Z-man will get royalties for life, with bonuses to boot.
He drives a hard bargain. And so do I. Welcome to a slice of our life, all occurring within an HOUR yesterday. . . .
So I go to tell Z-man that I’m heading to our next door neighbor’s house, my horse riding buddy and friend extraordinaire. I knock politely on his bedroom door. I hear rapid rustling of bedding and a body jump up. He opens the door and I am nearly knocked over by some stench emanating rapidly and powerfully over the threshold, wafting its way into my unwelcoming nostrils.
OH NOOOOOO! It’s the DIRTY—CLOTHES—BASKET with over-ripe, decomposing garments inside and strewn about the floor! Even the room freshener was wilted.
I knew I should have stayed clear. But I decided it had been way too long since I had summoned the courage to step into this portion of our home we still, as far as I know, pay for every month. Once my senses stabilized and my eyes assumed their normal sunken position, I slipped into gestapo role. At LEAST three days in a row, I had asked oh so nicely and gently if this young man might possibly consider doing his laundry and freshening up the atmospheric condition of his own personal airspace, pretty please?
“Sure,” he said. Like, all three days. Suffice it to say I was done with the pleasantries.
“Get those clothes off the floor, into the basket, and into the washing machine pronto. And put in extra detergent,” I ordered in a calm but firm voice. He complied with some minor under-his-breath grumbling while I wondered how any living organism could survive without choking in such a place. “And while you’re at it, how about stripping your bed and freshening that up as well.” (It wasn’t a question and, therefore, I put no question mark at the end of that sentence.) More under-the-breath grumbling.
Sigh. The woes of parenting are ever upon us martyr moms.
As he started heading for the laundry room, my mother intuition radar started rapidly beeping. Something was not RIGHT in this room. I KNEW it. He was HIDING something. So, detective that I am, I took on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE! He came back to his room, went in, and shut the door. I waited patienty and precisely two minutes, allowing him to settle into whatever was making my mother intuition radar screen blip. And then . . . I stealthily tiptoed across the living room rug toward his bedroom door, hoping for an ambush. I knocked . . .
And before he had a chance to say, “Come in, Mother dear!” I threw open the door and sprang through, catching him sit up straighter and faster than the speed of light, covering something up with the bed quilt.
Hmmmm. Just as I suspected . . . CONTRABAND!
Now, there’s no need to explain exactly what he was hiding under that quilt but just to help everyone know that Z-man is really a great guy and not any more deviant than the rest of us middle-of-the-bell-curve humans, the item has two words and the first begins with a “V” and the second begins with a “G” and the first word has five letters and the second word has four letters. And the first word has three vowels and the second word has two vowels. And I’m a Vanna White look-alike from the knees down in a long, flowing evening gown.
Trust me on this. Z-man has had ample opportunities over the years to have what is now contraband in this house but repeated violations of clear rules have made this two-word thing outlawed in this house of horrors that some think it is, at least right now till they move out and have to start paying for all the pleasures they now get for FREE!
So I calmly sauntered over to the bed and picked up the contraband and, without a word, put it under my arm and started to head for the door and who would have guessed that I might as well have launched a surface-to-air missile starting WWIII? I simply reiterated the house rules and reminded him that if he wanted different rules with regards to this item, we would gladly help him move toward greater independence. And, honestly, I did not speak with him in a sarcastic or taunting tone. I have learned how to be quite calm and matter-of-fact AND loving all at the same time. Miracles still happen. (And notice that this description of my manner has NOT been deleted which means that our dear son agrees with the aforementioned characterization.)
So, with contraband in hand—I mean, under arm—I told him I’d see him in an hour for dinner that I would make out of the goodness of my ever-giving heart and I got in the car and drove to our neighbor’s farm for a beverage and hour of stimulating conversation about perennials and horses.
Next thing I know, I get a phone call from our daughter telling me Z-man has run away from home. Well, sort of—like the sort of running away from home a nearly 20 year old might do. He got in his car (that he’s still making payments on to his parents) and drove north a bit, deciding to stay at our lake house for the night because he was just too tired of our rules and he needed his space.
Well, that’s understandable, I thought, as I excused myself from my delightful conversation with my neighbor to field this foul ball. I called his cell . . . and he actually answered!
“Um, I don’t think your plan is going to be OK with Dad and me. I think you need to turn your car around right now and come home.” Still cool and calm, I am, yes ma’am.
“I’m not coming home! I’m staying at the lake house and I’ll see you after my haircut tomorrow night at 8:30!”
Really? Is this REALLY happening? Like, OK, sure! Stay overnight at the lake house! And would you like me to order you a pizza for delivery as well? And of course I’ll pay for that! After all, I was put on this earth for one reason and one reason only and that’s to serve YOU! Thank you so much for the opportunity and, if you don’t mind, would you be so kind as to complete this short survey to let my boss—GOD—know what you thought of my service? We’ll enter you in a drawing for an eternal spending spree on anything your little heart desires!
Sorry about that. I was having an out-of-body experience for a moment.
“Um, I really don’t think you want to experience the consequences of your choice here so I would advise you to come home now.”
There were a few more exchanges, not too bad really, and Z-man turned around, and came home, and did a two-mile cross country run around our property to burn off some steam. By the time I returned he was sweaty but calm. And we had a very nice chat as I prepared a yummy stir-fried rice and zucchini recipe with a side of fresh tossed salad.
With dinner just about done, Z-man reflected on his earlier meltdown and stated, rather matter-of-factly . . .
“I guess I just fell off my rocker.”
That did it! I took the idiom and ran with it . . .
“Oh my GOODNESS! It’s a BLOG POST! Yes indeed! Go get that rocking chair in the basement and we’ll stage some photographs and . . .”
“NO! You are NOT writing a blog post about this!” Z-man states emphatically.
“Oh, come on Zach! It will be hilarious! Have a sense of humor! Everything that happened today is NORMAL and every just-about-twenty-year-old goes through this I want to leave/I want to stay phase! Let’s have some FUN with it!”
Poor Zach. He’s used to his weird mother getting all dramatic and turning stuff like this into belly aching laughter. I could tell he was game but that he really needed to don his macho façade. After all, twenty-year-old men are soooo incredibly macho, right?
One of the things I most love about Zach is this little smirk he gets on his face when he knows how much I love him and how much I want to help lighten him up with some crazy fun. He’s got the smirk and so I go to the basement and pull up . . . THE ROCKER.
I set THE ROCKER out on the deck, as the sun is silently slipping from the western sky, and I get a bench to climb upon so I can photograph at just the right aerial angle to snap away at Z-man falling off his rocker. Anna is cackling in a high-pitched tone. I am snorting because I’m laughing so hard. Zach is trying not to smile. We are all having a blast.
And so, he sits. And he pretends to look forlorn. And I snap a photo. And he slides off his rocker. And I snap some more photos. And he goes to his knees. Oh this is getting sooooo good! And . . . I was sort of hoping he would do a belly-up, dead possom pose but he stopped just short. I guess that was asking a bit too much?
After the photo shoot, we reviewed the creative genius together and he deleted all unacceptable shots and saved these precious few which he has given me full permission to use, with royalty rights of course. (Does he know I blog for free?)
We end the evening with Zach saying, “I have no sense of humor.”
We laughed and I swear he smiled so that I could see just a tiny bit of teeth.
He hugged me goodnight.
And I hugged him back.
For now, he remains under our roof. And I’m glad. He’s strengthening his wings, peering over the edge of the nest. And soon, he will fly, when he’s ready. And we’ll be there for him then—just like now. And, hopefully, we’ll keep laughing together as we go because . . . .
Life can be heavy but laughter makes it lighter.
And sometimes it’s just so darn FUN to fall off your rocker.