Sr. Wantabee and husband have a simple room for their teenage kids, a boy and a girl. To play on the weekend, we expect a decent attempt at school and a decent attempt to keep your bedroom striaght. A respectful please and thanks are always welcome in exchange for the transport we supply. Friday afternoon her son, who had been down with a migraine headache for two days, perked up to do some homework and one load of wash before dancing out to be with “his crew.” He’d be home by 10 pm. The daughter on the other hand, had attended school, had play practice that went late so went via lightrail to her babysitting job, being retreived by her father at 1 am! But, a messy room. When the son returned, he found the garbage removed from his room and some furniture moved around to get to all the trash. Realizing he would be upset, we did not anticipate the atom bomb that exploded. “It is MY space!!!” “I was going to do it!!!!” The daughter is in bed by 2 a.m. and up at 9 a.m. for a concert performance. On the way, Sr. Wantabee pointed out that the room was not straight, she was tired and so going out priviledges were suspended. Another atom bomb exploded. “That is MY room!!” “I plan to clean it!!!” “My friends and I need to spend an evening unwinding together as we have had a VERY stressful week, MOM!!!!” How did these landmines turn into atom bombs?
As I pondered this and Sr. Wantabee realized she had never had her own room after age 2. She had always shared with her sister or a roommate. She was not adopted and did not realize the importance of a designated voice. Likewise she had been raised by a mother who was a stay-at-home mom, spending her life cleaning and cooking while Sr. WAntabee’s job was to do well at school. As a young adult, she was a professional and had roommates who enjoyed nesting and considered Sr. Wantabee inept. In Kenya, she had maids and supervised housework. Now, back in the States, she has her own home for the first time in her life and at ae 64 is trying to be a professional and feels the responsibility for the home. Even though she may not be a good housewife, she knows it is her realm as she seeks to be professional.
Sr. Wantabee’s husband is an only child who never had to compete for space and who was raised in Africa with maids at home and when at school, everyone had one job in the door. He just does not understand the fuss.
The kids, born in Africa, are the real Americans, greatly gifted far beyond the mother of the 50-60s or the father raised in the bush of Africa. They have not shared space since age 7 ie 11 years and as teenagers feel they have inherited bedrooms from their now 28+ siblings and deserve the same respect and total trust at age 15!
The result, a cultural atom bomb as the three cultures in one family collided over, “Pick up your room if you want to go out.” The blessing of diversity and the tension exploded. Relationships are repaired but… where is the next landmine?