I’m sure anyone who has been reading my blogs understands that I’ve been having ongoing issues with my ‘twenty-something’ Godson.
Our relationship has been deteriorating over the course of the last 7 years or so. We’ve been on an emotional roller-coaster with him that’s caused a great deal of frustration and tension within our family.
We acknowledge that we’ve allowed him to disrespect us and treat us inappropriately over the years, primarily because we felt sorry for him, but mostly because both my husband and I could identify with his ‘family situation’, both of us having come from broken families. We always said we wished we’d have had even one adult who would have been supportive and encouraging and been a ‘rock’ for us to anchor to… so we went a little overboard trying to be that, for our Godson.
Four months ago I was literally at my breaking point with him. Everything always had to be ‘about him’, about what interested him, what was important to him, what he wanted to do. He dictated what movies we watched on ‘movie days’ when we’d gather together and rent a bunch of movies, have dinner and just kick back. He decided whether we gathered for a ‘game night’ or not and what games we would play (usually the games he wanted to play excluded our son). If we were watching television when he came to our home he provided a running commentary of condescending and obnoxious critiques as to how stupid the program was, how formulaic it was, how bad the acting was, etc. When he visited, he commented on the configuration of the living room furniture, always having to point out that I’d rearranged furniture, AGAIN! and that he didn’t see the point.
He had developed the irritating habit of having to point out every time we misspoke, used a word in a way different than he was familiar with. He constantly analyzed the things we said, what we felt, how we reacted, informing us we weren’t using ‘reason’ but ’emotion.’
He had become extremely sensitive, interpreting any differences in opinion or preferences, any critique or questioning of something of importance to him as an attack. Any expectations put upon him were ‘unfair’ and we were treated to repeated lectures as to ‘his generation’s determination that certain social and moral expectations were disingenuous, therefore they have abandoned them.’
He’d begun to blame the consequences of his own actions on everyone around him. One key example that very deeply affected me happened on Valentine’s Day.
My husband had planned to take me out to dinner for Valentine’s Day. Since he typically gets home from work at nearly 4 p.m. he’d asked me to be dressed and ready to go, that instead of taking our Godson home from work and dropping him off, he’d have him ride to our house and walk the 5 blocks or so home, allowing him to get home about 10 minutes earlier. He wanted to beat the dinner rush to the restaurant, as we were using my new manual wheelchair to get from the car into the restaurant and he wanted them to be able to find a suitable place to seat us, where there was room for the chair.
Three times, over the course of a week, my husband and/or I reminded our Godson that he would have to walk home from our house that day, that we would be rushing to beat the dinner crowd. My husband was going to stop and pick up take-out for our son’s dinner so I didn’t have to cook something for him before leaving.
On Valentine’s evening, when my husband stopped at a fast-food restaurant to pick up our son’s dinner, our Godson decided not only to get himself something for dinner, but to get his mother something as well. (Remember, he was told he had to walk home, repeatedly.) My husband didn’t speak up because he was glad to see our Godson thinking of his mother. Our Godson’s order was wrong, so my husband went inside and corrected the order. On the way home, our Godson informed my husband that he needed a special notebook from a stationery/office supply store, so my husband stopped there. Because he had food for himself and his mother and didn’t want it to get cold before he could get it home, my husband drove him home.
I was ready and waiting, wondering if something had happened, if something had gone wrong, why he was so late getting home, later than he typically arrived home from work.
When he got home, our son’s dinner was barely ‘warm’ and he was very upset that our Godson had been a priority over him.
When our Godson was confronted with the information that both I and my son were upset, that I thought it was incredibly selfish for him to have impeded our plans that way with no regard for how his actions would impact anyone else, he apologized the next time I saw him, telling me he hadn’t remembered. He then told his mother, privately, that he thought the whole situation was so unfair… he was the ‘victim’, because ‘everyone’s always telling me that if I need anything I should just ask, but every time I do I’m a son-of-a-bitch for doing it.’
Four months ago, he was coming over every Sunday morning for brunch. We were walking Kodi and ran into him on his way to our house, so he walked with us. We walked for about an hour and ten minutes or so, according to my husband’s estimation, during which time our Godson completely monopolized the conversation, going on ad nauseam about a particular video game series he’d played and how the final game ended.
I tried twice to introduce a new subject, only to have him tell me he hadn’t been keeping up with current events so he really couldn’t comment, going immediately back to the topic of this video game. I tried to engage in the discussion with him, by asking him questions about it, but finally had to just say that I didn’t understand what all the negative reaction was about, I hadn’t played the game, so I couldn’t understand. It was ‘just a game.’
To this he responded that I was right, I hadn’t played it, had no ‘connection’ to it, so I couldn’t really understand. I thought the discussion was over, but I was wrong. He decided he needed to make me understand… he introduced an ‘analogy’ “so you can understand”… the analogy was ridiculous because I don’t understand the mindset behind it either… so it did nothing to help me ‘understand’ why he and others were so distraught over the ending of this video game.
He’s had this idea, for quite a while, that he can ‘educate’ us. That education has changed so much our education is antiquated, our life experiences have no meaning in today’s world, etc.
I took great exception, on that day, to his attitude, primarily because I had been listening to him go on and on obsessively about video games, dungeons and dragons, etc., for many years. He’d come to our home many times and monopolized the television playing video games, seemingly unaware or not caring that there were other people in the house who didn’t want to watch and/or listen to those things for hours on end. I had been trying to be considerate of his feelings, what was important to him, for a very long time, resisting telling him how ridiculous I thought it was that so much of his life revolved around role-playing games.
It wasn’t enough, that day, that I listened for nearly an hour, to his non-stop ranting about the disappointing end to a video game, I had to be made to understand why he was ranting, why people were upset, though we had established there was no way I could understand, having not played the game.
I had disengaged from the discussion, decided just to keep my mouth shut so I wouldn’t say anything else that would escalate the situation. We came home and I made everyone brunch. He ate brunch, watched movies with us (while he text messaged his friend the whole time on his phone) and when he left I told him to be careful.
Weeks turned into months, that he didn’t speak to me. He still rode along with us so he could grocery shop, but I was treated to silence.
My husband and our Godson’s mother repeatedly told him he needed to talk to me. My husband told him he needed to come see me because what he thought had been the catalyst of my hurt feelings was not even accurate. Our Godson emphatically responded that he was not going to apologize, he had nothing to apologize for and that his analogy was right.
So, during these four months, he was aware I was about to have surgery, that it was a serious surgery. He didn’t address the situation. The week before my surgery he still did not address it. After my surgery he still did not come to see me so we could talk.
I discussed with my husband and our Godson’s mother than I felt it was now too late to discuss it. The emotional damage had been done and at some point I had to put my foot down and say ‘enough is enough.’ He had, to my way of thinking, demonstrated a complete lack of respect, caring or love for me and I was no longer going to allow that kind of blatant disregard for my feelings to be part of my life.
My husband again prodded our Godson to come see me so we could talk, but he refused. My husband then told him, it’s too late. He informed him that he was no longer welcome at our home and that he couldn’t ride along to buy groceries or run errands if he couldn’t treat us with respect.
How did our Godson respond to that? He complained to my husband that his mother and I had experienced long periods of time without talking to one another and that had been alright, that we’d picked back up where we’d left off, so it wasn’t fair that he was being treated this way.
Once again, he was the victim, being unfairly treated.
His mother pointed out to me, just what I had pointed out to my husband when he told me of this reaction, that we have known each other for 35 years. We have a peer relationship and that it was NEVER ‘alright’ when those periods had occurred, there were hurt feelings and the friendship suffered. He did not have a ‘peer relationship’ with me, my role in his life was more of a ‘parental’ figure and that no matter how repugnant it is to him that his elders deserve respect and he is not equal to them because he’s not earned that respect yet, that is the reality of the situation.
So… no closure, no opportunity to make him aware of what the actual cause of the hurt feelings was and no relationship going forward.
Part of me is sad and disappointed, but another part of me feels ‘liberated.’