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Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Duty versus survival ...

I've been coming apart at the seams over the last week.  I've had my kids with me for just over a week now and it's the worst visit ever with them.  It's like they've forgotten how to think and act for themselves.  Forgotten how to clear up after themselves.  Forgotten their manners.  Forgotten values that we once shared.  Forgotten everything useful that I ever passed onto them.  It felt like I was spending time with 2 strangers.

One of the things about coping with life when you have a disability is that the 'day-to-day' stuff that most people can deal with without a second thought becomes full of hurdles to people like myself.  So when my kids came to visit this time, instead of the two kids that knew about my disability and what not to do ... I was visited by two teenagers that kept pissing me off with their behaviour and lack of self motivation.  The house was full of noise ... and not the good type:  doors being slammed etc - out of place noise that sets me on edge.

I planned to take them up to Scotland to show them some wilderness.  They arrived with no suitable outdoor clothing or footwear.  I only found out theat they didn't have their sleeping bags with them 2 days before they were due to be picked up.  They'd been continuously reminded to bring their sleeping bags and suitable outdoor clothing 2 months prior to this trip.  2 days before pickup I'm told that they don't have sleeping bags with them.  They were told to get some or they wouldn't be picked up.  Before heading for Scotland, I found they had no sufficient toiletries or towels with them.  They were told to go and buy the stuff from their allowance.

After 2 days of being rained in and their constant squabbling, I headed back to Nottingham.  They were told to behave for the trip back.  I got into the bath as soon as I got home and just relaxed and started to feel the stress levels go down a bit when the house door was slammed hard - twice - completely shattering any peace that I was starting to feel as the walls of the house shook with the force.  So I called their mother and arranged an earlier transfer.  I'll be heading off to drop them off in an hour.

One of the things that I have been working hard on with my kids is to ensure that their life isn't as difficult as mine ... but without spoiling them.  Part of me wonders what a parent has to do to strike that balance of discipline and empowerment.  Teaching them values but also making them aware of their power .. and their responsibilities.

Therein lies the problem.  My kids have a lot being put into them but there's no balance.  When kids get to their teenage years, there has to be an exchange of energy, duty and responsibility.  If the kids are just allowed to get away with having their own way ... then we have failed them as parents.  If both parents don't agree on values, duties etc, then the kids flounder in between the two.  It's like trying to build a house on sandy beach at low tide ... sooner or later it'll collapse.

When I lived near my children and we saw eachother on a weekly basis, it was easier to contribute towards their development.  There were still problems now and then ... but we coped.  They learnt the way things were and did a share of whatever was required in the house - washing up, chopping wood for the fire, cleaning out the fire, helping to cook, setting the table etc.  They had some motivation then ... now they seem to be need to told what to do over the most basic tasks.  The last time that I visited them in Cornwall, they asked me to go and see their rooms ... I was appalled at the mess in both their rooms, as their bedrooms in my house were always tidy.

I now feel that I have 2 strangers visiting me ... and my duty now is to my health;  to try to cope with this disability without feeling guilty or being made to feel guilty for putting myself before my kids. 

When I was a teenager I cut my path towards my chosen career and worked hard at it from the age of 13.  Kids nowadays have things way to easy.  Our society is too liberal in splashing out 'rights' in some areas of the young and as a result we're ending up with a bunch of youngsters that are lacking in motivation.

I remember hearing these words when I was 11 from an elder in Leicester, 'You youngsters have got it too easy nowadays.'   That was in 1975 I think, when we had an outside toilet 4 foot snowdrifts in winter and an outside shower.  Sometimes the meal was bread dipped in a cup of hot tea.  There was no pocket money. 

I guess one of the by-products of 'progress' is that things get easier for each generation that follows ... but do family values, standards, morals and work ethic have to become casualties as a result?   Why do we never seek 'balance'?  Why do we always go from one extreme to the other?

Wolf

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