Monday, July 11, 2016

Turning an Adult Child into an ADULT

My dear, sweet son Thor just turned 23. He lives at home with us while he goes to college and works a part-time job. He has his associates degree in Natural Sciences from the local junior college and will eventually go on to a 4-year school for a bachelor's degree in chemistry.

He has the maturity of a goat teenager though there are very occasional signs of life in the desert. (Supposedly, real maturity occurs by age 25 so we are in sight of the end of the tunnel!)

He took last week off from work so he stayed up into the wee hours playing video games and then sleeping all day. Yes, yes, he was on vacation. I get it but it still irritates me.

All his video-game-playing friends work late (they all work at the local movie theater) so they can only play together after midnight.

Lately my biggest issue with him is how he uses the kitchen. I generally have a good working knowledge of what I have in the pantry and refrigerator. I plan the meals, do the shopping and cook the meals. CPA Boy does some cooking on occasion and we eat out often too.

And then comes the plague of locusts my son. For example, I started making tuna salad a couple of weeks ago. When I went to get the mayo from the fridge it only had a couple of tablespoons left. There was none in the pantry.

When I take the last container of mayo from the pantry I write it on the list for next time I go shopping. My son, who eats a zillion sandwiches with mayo on them, doesn't pay attention to this aspect of kitchen management. Our list is on a large bulletin-board-sized white board; you can't miss it hanging on the wall in the kitchen. And our biggest kitchen commandment is "write it on the list".

Since I only use mayo for tuna, egg or chicken salads I don't have a constant knowledge of how much we have in the fridge at any given moment. I buy LOTS of mustard (CPA Boy LOVES that stuff) but only 2 containers of mayonnaise at a time as mayo is more likely to turn bad than mustard. This mayo purchase policy will be up for review. And I will probably end up hiding one, just in case.

Then last week I bought small taco size flour tortillas to make fish tacos. I never buy the small size as we generally use the larger burrito-size to make quesadillas. The last time we had fish tacos the tortillas were ridiculously huge!

Anyway, my son blithely used 6 of them to make mini-quesadillas, never questioning WHY the tortillas were smaller than usual. Perhaps Mom bought them for a special purpose?

He goes through loaves of bread, packages of cheese and cold cuts, cookies and desserts and leftovers like a 23-year-old bottomless pit.

Meanwhile, last month I had the idea that he needed to be more responsible for his own meals so I asked him to start buying his own breakfast and lunch items. I would set aside some space in the pantry and refrigerator for him.

It never mattered.

He got around it by skipping breakfast and lunch completely. Then he came to dinner and ate like crazy.

I talked to him last night about some new solutions. Perhaps he should be responsible for ALL his meals. Maybe he can pay me to make his meals. Or something, anything. I'm open to ideas. Instead he turned into a petulant, sulking child.

The real point is this: I realize that I need to treat him like an adult but I also need him to ACT like an adult. So instead I stressed "collaboration not sabotage" when it comes to kitchen issues. His face lost the pout and it seemed to help when I stressed he was an adult, not a child.

He IS a dear, sweet young man. And the reality is that he will probably live with us for a while longer. He's a good person; he just needs to embrace maturity and kitchen collaboration!

A postscript: A lot of people just tell us to "kick him out" but even if we did there is nowhere for him to go. Rents around here for a one-bedroom apartment start at $1200-1500; he makes $1000 a month with his part-time job. (When I was 25 my one-bedroom apartment cost $400 and my salary was $1000/month for full-time work.)

He could quit college and try to get a full-time job or get a second part-time job but he will be better off if he can finish college with a degree. And he is not the only adult child still living at home among my parent friends and acquaintances.

Recently Realty Trac released its list of the top ten least affordable counties in the United States. Sonoma County was #10, following Marin (#2), Santa Cruz (#3), Napa (#7) and San Francisco (#4). Also Monterey, Brooklyn, Queens and Maui were on the list. This is not a great area for young people just starting out. (For the record, I have lived in three of those counties!)


  1. Replies
    1. Mustard is the conservatory...with Miss Scarlet. No, wait, that's not right....

      And Cindi has never once cooked for me.