One of the best things that my mother ever did for me was be a selfish bitch. Sometimes I really hated her. Especially when she sat on the couch and directed me and my siblings efforts to clean the living room.
But I realize now that she probably did it sometimes because she was trying to teach us self-reliance and independence. Other times she just wanted to sit on her ass and not clean up after us. My mother taught me to cook on the stove at nine. I started doing my own laundry and eleven. Not because she had a job, but because she was trying to give us ourselves and diminish some of her own domestic workload. (I understand this impulse, as living with any man seems to increase a woman's work.)
The reason I bring this up is because of a kid in one of my classes named Jake. He's got a blended family. Dad, stepmom, stepbrother and two brothers live together, and then his mom in another house. (Not sure if she re-married or not.) Recently he gave me trouble in art class. He disregards my suggestions, even when they're not really suggestions.
When told to add a background to a drawing of a wooden figure, he added a primitive looking goal post and wouldn't put any more details. His excuse was "But, I don't know what to do."
On his papier mache project, he refused to add more layers because, "we're moving and I'm going to have to throw it away anyway." When I was sick and had a substitute near the end of the project, some of the newspaper additions that he'd taped on fell off. Instead of retaping them, he pulled them all the way off and like that'd be enough.
I mentioned Jake's name to his teacher, and she told me about an incident that happened this year. Jake's dad and stepmom planned a vacation in another state. Jake decided that he didn't like the destination and refuse to go. His parents let him stay at his mother's house instead of going on the trip with the rest of the family.
I don't know about you, but I would have tied his ass to the car. Why did his parent's let him make the choice? What happened to the parents, in Calvin and Hobbes' words, as "Supreme Dictators for Life?" There's no way that my parents, particularly my mom, would have let me get away with that.
I worry about this kid. Jake's got no independence, no self-esteem, and every task's just an opportunity to argue with someone about why he doesn't need to do it.
Sure my mom was a selfish bitch. But I'm a better person because of it.