Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Another Day at the Gormans

So my son Marco is working at the local Brookshire's grocery store and he must be doing a pretty good job. He just got a raise last week from $7.50 an hour to $8.65. Nice one. I was real pleased. Kid is also loved by his girlfriend's parents who think the world of him. And rightly: He apparently pitches in a lot, gets the younger sisters to girl scouts and so forth. And I love him.
But he's still Marco, and in a single day can do a dozen things that infuriate. Like right this second he's borrowing my truck to go get his new glasses. But he needs my keys because he can't find the set he uses. And he wants to know if I want to chip in. I told him I was gonna ask him to get the truck inspected as his share of the cost of using it. Not a chance. And I'm a bum for not chipping in on the glasses--which are replacing the glasses I did buy him but that were lost.
Last night I nearly murdalized him when he got uopup in the middle of the night. I was sleeping on the living room floor--Madeleina having come in and commandeered the couch I sleep on because she wasn't sleeping well--and here strides Marco, past me and out the front door, leaving the door and the glass wind-break door open while he took a leak off the porch and into the bushes. The striding woke me; the freezing blast of air destroyed any chance of going back to sleep for an hour or two.
I didn't say anything. Dad's have to pick their spots.
This morning I was fixing lunch for Madeleina when he said he was leaving to take his girlfriend to school. Madeleina's school is on the way. She was ready. I would think that most people would suggest "I'm going past your school, I'll take you." Not my beautiful Marco. He somehow got out of the house and into Italo's car before I could ask him to take Madeleina.
And on his return he asked for breakfast--which I love making for the kids--but I had to tell him that his dishes were his responsibility. "See dad, how you can ruin everything?"
That last came from a conversation we had yesterday. I'd given pretty good orders that I expected his room cleaned, and I meant spotless. Which he did. Cleaned the rat's cage and everything. And then he called me in to look. And I told him it looked great and that I wish he could get it through his head that if he would just maintain things it wouldn't need to become a fire hazard and mouse resort in two more days.
On the way out of the room I nearly stumbled over a host of candy wrappers, pieces of sandwiches and so forth that he'd put near but not into the kitchen garbage can. So I said: Job will be done once you get this cleaned up.
And out of the blue he answered: "Nothing's ever good enough for you."
I stopped in my tracks. I told him I'd change from that second on. He seemed to accept it. But I've been thinking about that. It never occurred to me that he still needs my approval. But I guess he does. Heck, I moved out within a couple of weeks of my 18th birthday, and my dad died when I was just 20 and though I know we all deal with approval issues forever, it never occurred to me that Marco was dealing with them on this level. On the level of "Look! I cleaned my room! Aren't I good?"
And I'm so terribly sorry that I've been so blind. I've been trying to treat him like a grown up and pushing him into responsibility--he's 19 after all--and in fact he's been living up to the responsibility on most levels very well. I mean he's getting up a 3 and 4 AM to get to work, he's pitching in with the girlfriend and so forth. But here at home he's still a kid looking for approval. And to have missed that, for me to not realize how much my criticism of things like not taking care of dishes or being sloppy apparently hurts him is something I'm going to have to fix.
I know some will say be tough with him, and that might get the results, but I'd like to get more than a clean dish or a tidy room. I'd like him to grow emotionally to where he doesn't need my approval, to where he realizes that the only approval he needs is his own. If I can enncourage that by changing my behavior somehow, then he'll wind up holding himself to his own standard and that's when he'll be free of me as a dad and have me as a friend.
Yesterday afternoon, driving him to his girl's house, I told him I was calling a dad moment. And I told him that I loved him and that he would always have my love. I also told him that he didn't need my approval, that he needed his own approval. I also reiterated that I would change the criticism thing of mine.
He said that even if he didn't want my approval he was stuck looking for it.
I guess that was the first step.
You'll always drive me batty, but I love you, kiddo.

1 comment:

daisyduke said...

people pay thousands of dollars for therapy and don't come out of it with that knowing. Awesome realization. Awesome communication. Great dad day!!