Red Shoulder Hawk

Red Shoulder Hawk

Monday, January 22, 2007

Tough Choice

Yesterday, Xena and I asked George to move out.

Readers will recall that I've been struggling in my relationship with him for months. There's simply a... pacing... to his day and mind and time that I am currently unable to harmonize with. For Nicholas, it's even harder. The two of them simply drive each other nuts.

George is home nearly all day. Nick gets home from school two hours before I get home from work. At least once a week, I'll get a phone call from my boy, crying into the phone, or so angry he can scarcely talk, or in a thin little voice, "When will you be home?"

It's never over any big deal. A typical initiator event will be if Nick is in the middle of something, and George has decided it's time to wash the dishes or sweep the floors. He'll demand that Nick helps. I've heard him say, "Hey Nick, I'm cleaning the dishes. Some of them are yours, so come help me."

Pretty innocuous stuff, and completely factual. From Nick's point of view, though, he's already helping-- he washed dishes (including George's) yesterday, or he'll be in the middle of cleaning the cat's litter box, and it feels like there's no acknowledgement of his contributions.

If Nick tries to talk about it, George gets defensive. He definitely has a "I'm the grown-up and therefore twice as right as you are" attitude. Nick doesn't need that in order to listen to some one's point of view. I see Nick has plenty of adult friends who enroll him in work without any anguish or raised voices.

When I talk about this sort of stuff with George, we make some headway. I found myself mediating between George and every other person in the house. After hours of conversation as well as restructuring my day to better suit his timing on tasks, the seeds of true compatibility are turning into sprouts. But he hasn't come far enough, fast enough.

An example: The household has agreed about how household security should operate. He doesn't get it. He leaves doors unlocked and windows open. After the safety meeting, where we all agreed in principle that finding work for the young people to do would be a good thing, he promptly end-ran me and hired a neighbor girl to clean the house.

I don't know this girl as an individual at all. She's part of the undersupervised crowd of young people that make the street feel threatening, with their angry words and angry music and parties that begin to look like riots. I know her mom a little. To be fair, George was cleaning with her the whole time, so she wasn't unsupervised. I might have done the same thing.

But I didn't. I didn't get the chance to. And I was so stunned by his pre-emptive action, I couldn't formulate an intelligent response. Or any response. The next day, the final veil lifted from my eyes when I got yet another phone call from an upset Nick, yearning over the phone for a house that he felt safe in, one that he wanted to come home to.

My shock and tongue-tiedness tells me George has used me up. Listening to Nick tells me I've asked too much of my son.

So even though it was really hard to tell George he has to move on, I did it.

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