“Am I too harsh?” I sometimes ask myself. I’m a pads brat. I’ve worn the Queen’s uniform myself. I can do touchy-feely. For a while. And then I try to move on from moaning about the problem to resolving the problem. I’m by no means a Marxist, but I do like his assertion:
“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, the point is to change it.”
I suppose my slogan would be in German:
“Meckern, und dann machen.”
(“Moan, and then do [something about it].”)
Today’s poser is this.
Jasna is a friend of mine. She’s nearly 50 and works in education. Her son is 21 and in his final year at university, reading Business Studies. Personally, I think he’s more a creative type, and would have perhaps been more suited to a course such as drama or music. But that’s his choice.
This academic year, son, has been coming back home almost every single weekend and often not going back to university, two hours away by train, until the Tuesday. Weekends at home seem to be spent in bed, sleeping, on the living room sofa, snoozing, in the same clothes, four days flat. His bath towel remains clean and dry – because he doesn’t shower. It would barely be an exaggeration to say you smell him before you see him. He and personal hygiene seem to be estranged from one another.
How does mum, Jasna, feel about it? Recently she let off steam to me.
- She was fed-up of him being at home, getting under her feet.
- He was grabbing all the good food at home, from fridge, freezer, cupboards, you name it.
- He was making the whole house stink.
- He was rattling on to her about his pretty problems at university.
- She couldn’t have the house to herself while he was there. She was desperately needing her “me-time.”
He came back yet again “just for the weekend.” (Just fancy that.)
On Monday evening (much as I had anticipated) he was still home. (He “didn’t have any lectures till Tuesday afternoon.”)
On Tuesday evening he was still at home. The Tuesday afternoon lecture “wasn’t that important.”
On Wednesday evening…
On Thursday evening…
Each evening Jasna was expressing her frustration that son had not gone back to university.
Uncle Ginge tried to analyse.
- Does he actually have any friends at university? Most finalists prefer being at university with their mates, rather than with their parents, cramping their style.
- Actually, no he doesn’t. He’s a constant cadger (borrower). “Oh dear, I seem to have left my wallet at home” is his regular comment when it comes to his round down the student union bar.
On Saturday evening – guess what, son was still at home. Jasna was still letting off steam to me. But “he’s definitely going back tomorrow.” Er, right…
Sunday evening Facebook check-in:
Watching film at Super Deluxe Fleapit cinema in Ridsville – with (son).
Pardon? My jaw drops. What? Ah, hang on, this is typical of Jasna. She sends out mixed signals to her son. I knew on Monday that he would still be at home a week after coming home.
Jasna changes her story from “He’s getting under my feet, he’s driving me up the wall.”
- He’s been depressed.
- He’s been an emotional support to me.
- He cooked dinner for his sister on Wednesday.
- He paid for the trip to the cinema tonight.
Jasna sends me a dissertation via WhatsApp.
Message after message after message after message…
He’s definitely going back tomorrow – tomorrow evening – if hubby will drive him back.
The Whatsapp messages keep coming through.
I resolve to: go for a shower, put the rubbish out, make a couple of phone calls, alphabetise my CD collection, clip my toenails, clear a paper jam from my printer…
- Beep, another WhatsApp message.
- Beep, another one…
- Beep, you guessed it, yet another…
In the end – I respond.
“Is it your son’s job to be your emotional support worker? You said he was depressed. Oh, his GP said he isn’t depressed? Shouldn’t he be back at university in the academic environment, in his ‘office’, studying in the library, meeting his mates (if he has any) down the union bar, working out down the gym, keeping himself doing purposeful activity (such as showering)?”
Then we get to the “money shot.”
“But, Ginge in Germany, you don’t understand, because you are not a parent.”
Of course. I should have realised. What a fool I am! All my time as a teacher, uncle, etc, has proven useless. I am just being too harsh on Jasna’s son. When will I ever learn?
Have a lenient day, won’t you!