Sunday, March 15, 2009

Part 3: The Long-suffering and deeply misunderstood Father

They say that parenthood is hard and they’ve got it right. I’ve two boys you see and they couldn’t be more different. My oldest is called Roger: Reliable Roger I call him. He’s a good lad and he had to grow up quickly when his mother died. He’s a plodder. Give him a job and you know it’s in safe hands: he’ll do it well and he’ll do it conscientiously. It seems to be important to him that he is seen to be capable and independent. He gives the impression of being emotionally self contained but he’s not: He’s built a wall around himself and he can’t break out. He’s desperate for affection but he doesn’t know how to express it or receive it. He likes to think he’s the adult, but you know in today’s parlance he’s what they call “critical parent”. His default position is judgemental and he’s taken that into his religious expression too. And he’s very jealous of Dillon, my younger son. He has no reason to be but there it is.

Now Dillon’s no angel: quite the opposite. Dillon the Disobedient I call him. Sometimes he’s quite a hard lad to like, let alone love. In his own way he’s just as screwed-up emotionally as Roger. He just expresses it differently. He’s a hedonist and he’s deeply self-centred. Chalk and cheese. Critical Parent and Free Child.

Roger thinks I indulge Dillon too much. Roger thinks Dillon's a parasite. Dillon thinks Roger’s a . . . now what was the term? A nob! He also thinks I’m a senile old git who can’t see through his little schemes. He thinks he’s so clever and he thinks I’m stupid.

Maybe I need to be firmer with them both, but they’re fully formed. I might be able to modify them a bit round the edges but I can’t change them substantially. They can only do that themselves … or God, maybe. The thing is they are my boys and I love them unconditionally: they’re all I have and when I’m gone they will have to be there for each other. Family is the most important thing there is and I need to get these argumentative boys to recognise that and value it. It’s a constant struggle and a balancing act between two competing egos.

Dillon’s just come back from his little adventure all crocodile tears and false promises and Roger’s in a big sulk. Kids eh? Who’d have them?

Dillon thinks he pulled a fast one. He thinks he made off with a small fortune. He has no idea. I was surprised how little he settled for and that he didn’t ask for more. I got away very lightly and I gave him just enough to last for a few months. I knew he’d fritter it away and then would come the learning: I could have told him how it would end but he needed to learn it for himself. The school of hard knocks they call it. Of course he came back just as I knew he would but I don’t think he fully realises yet just what he has learnt: he’s been taken down a peg or two and that’s not a bad thing. He’s a lot less full of himself right now.

And of course I was pleased to see him. Why not have a party? The problem is that Roger's gone all resentful. Resentful Roger. He didn’t want Dillon back basically and now he has to deal with that. He needs taking down a peg or two in his own way too, so he can sit outside and sulk. He’ll come in of course, when he feels he’s made a point. He has no idea how much I value him, how much I love him: he can’t hear it. It doesn’t fit with his persona of strong and capable.

Being an adult isn’t just about age is it? Sometimes it’s a struggle being the only grown up in the family.

(When I tried to google "Images - worried old man", I kept getting John McCain)