Mmm... grilled cheese...

I don't have children myself, but there is a teenage boy who lives in my house.  I don't know what it's like for other teenagers these days, but this one definitely cannot seem to decide whether or not he wants to be a child or an adult.  One moment it's clear that the last thing he wants is anything that resembles adult responsibility (like doing regular chores without being asked).  The next moment he's insisting he's ready to be treated like a grownup (like being allowed to go to the mall by himself).

It's this age-role ambiguity, I believe, that has given rise to an interesting behavior the boy often exhibits.  I call it, "The Grilled Cheese Sandwich".  The process begins when any immature child very suddenly, most competently, and quite inexplicably exhibits utterly adult-like behavior.

Butter

The first step in making a grilled cheese sandwich is buttering the bread.  When yesterday the teenager seemed to have apathy, even disdain, for the demands of his single parent, today he is very complimentary, treats his siblings with respect, and asks if he can do any number of chores that usually go ignored.  As I'm sure you can imagine, this is also where the cheese comes in, because as cherubic as the boy can be it is often not altogether convincing.  Nevertheless, it is an incredibly welcome change in his demeanor and the butter is often every bit as soothing as he intends for it to be.  Thus, at just the right moment...

Toast

The next step is to warm the sandwich up.  Eventually the teenager begins to talk about his hopes and dreams and aspirations... like, say, earning money to buy that $300 skateboard he saw in the store the other day.  It would give him much needed exercise, not to mention the satisfaction of having earned something himself.  Ah, perhaps someday.  (As you can see some extra cheese can be added during this step.)  Once the sandwich has just the right hue of golden brown...

Serve

Finally the sandwich is ready to be enjoyed by its intended recipient.  And here the boy makes a proposition.  It might be a simple request:  "Can I have a new skateboard?"  It might be a bargain:  "You know, I don't really need new shoes.  How about we put that money into a fund for a new skateboard?" It can even be a petition:  "I'd like to do some work around the house in order to earn a skateboard."  But regardless of how the sandwich is served, the person to whom it's given finally understands the origin of that sweet, buttery aroma that has lingered about the house for the past week.

And in this way the guardian is presented not just with a crispy treat, but also with a dilemma.  Does the adult eat the sandwich and thereby reward the somewhat manipulative behavior of the chef who will certainly go back to his childish ways just as soon as his prize is acquired? Or should the adult refuse the sandwich, insisting that such tactics are not how one gets things in the adult world and teaching the fry-baby a valuable lesson?

Well, considering that the latter point isn't based in fact (my experience is that most people in the adult world do get things via Grilled Cheese Sandwich) the best course of action is probably the first option.  But it wouldn't hurt to also remind the child that in making the sandwich he (or she, as the case may be) has demonstrated the thorough ability to behave in an adult manner, and, therefore, it will be reasonable for grownups to expect such behaviors at all times in the future even when no sandwich is on the griddle.

Does this approach work? Well, not so far, no.  But I'm holding out hope.  In the meantime I do have to say... the sandwiches ARE delicious.

word of the day

While I was out at a meeting this morning, my son did laundry! He said he just noticed there was some in the basket that needed doing. This is a moment when the term "gobsmacked" comes in handy.

word of the day

Heh, so "gobsmacked"is getting a lot of attention recently because Susan Boyle, whose appearance on "Britain's Got Talent" has gotten overwhelming attention through YouTube, used it to describe how she feels about all the attention.  An article in the paper today cited gobsmacked as one of a number of new entries into our vocabularies.

Hello gobsmacked

word of the day

I can't believe that's actually a word.  I love it!!!

Speaking of sons... mine invented a word that made me laugh: "insultations".

As in "Greetings and Insultations" ...  he might say I'd be flinging insultations at him were I to suggest he doesn't do laundry when it needs to get done.  Smile

Insultations

Hah! That is a great word. Smile

And yeah, I just love the sound of "gobsmacked" and the image--I try to save it up for those really jaw-dropping moments of astonishment.

Ironeeee

For some very peculiar reason, my soon to be teen-age son has a very ironic demeanor. So I don't get a lot of actual use of cheese or butter. What I get is more along the lines of "Well, let me describe the way I would be making this sandwich, if I were, in fact, to make this sandwich", nudge, nudge, wink, wink...big goofy grin, "C'mon you know you like the grin better than any ol sandwich." Smile

Re: Ironeeee

Heh... awesome...

Freakin' Hi-Lar-I-Ous....

What's even better than the sandwich is when you have a teen that's doing this, and as you're listening to the soliloquy, in the calmest voice you can, call them on it by saying "Butter....."  (they'll look at you like you're insane but they'll keep going), "Toast"....  They might ask you "Huh? - what are you talking about"... just say "oh nothing, keep going"....  "and Serve".  At the end - when you explain to them everything in this article ... the look  on their face is priceless.  It brings me so much joy to be a parent somedays - it brings a tear to my eyes.

Re: Freakin'...

Laughing

Yeah, kids.  They think they've invented all of their little tricks.