The Boomerang Generation it's called.
As parents you think you have successfully launched your children into the world, to make their own way and to stand independently on their own feet. Then, before you have even had a chance to run away to Florida without giving them your forwarding address, they're back! Sometimes they come back when they didn't even start with you in the first place, as has happened with the son we adopted as an adult.
So yes, we have Tom living with us. Not just staying for a while; he's actually living here and this is his official address. And with him, his Jenny. (And for those of you with eidetic memories who recall that they split up – yes – they're back together and highly delighted we all are too!)
Suddenly the house is very full. Full not just physically, but emotionally.
Tom and Jenny do things differently. They have their own habits and rhythms which are different from the previous practices and traditions of this household. Inevitably, there is friction.
But, blessedly, there is also communication. Tom is excellent at this.
A while ago Lex published a blog on emotional bank accounts. We have recently had a practical demonstration, involving many slips of paper, a notice-board and some bitter complaining on the part of people who didn't quite understand why they were so overdrawn with other members of the family.
It was salutary, but ultimately useful, to see how neglected some of our relationships had become. It was useful for my eldest daughter to see that her constant hugs and positive affirmations to all members of the family bear the fruits of easy love and gratitude. She has a healthy balance with everyone. It was probably just as useful but less comfortable for my youngest daughter to realise the effect of some of her actions. And yes – I had to assimilate and swallow the consequences of my own emotional withdrawal and demand for solitude.
So we have started the long process of mending, renewing and repairing.
I spent yesterday at a theme park with my youngest, getting scared and uncomfortable on the rides - and paying money to do it! It wasn't entirely unpleasant however, and the reward was that my daughter opened up to me on the way home and actually started talking.
Which meant an uncomfortable chat with her father as I explained that she really, really, doesn't want to do what he has planned for her this Summer.
Often communication means hearing things that are uncomfortable and saying things we don't want to say.
As Tom says, "It has to get worse before it gets better, Mum!"
We've all agreed to communicate more. How can I expect Tom and Jenny to follow the rules if I don't explain the rules first?
So, rule number one: Put the blasted toilet seat down. Yes, both bits. That means you, Tom!
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