Friday, 21 August 2009

"You can't treat people like that, you know."

One of the common topics on The Albert Mohler Program is the reluctance of young adults to grow up and leave home. There are actually twenty-somethings who rely on their parents to do their laundry, feed them, and let them live at home without paying rent. Some do this because of economic reasons but others want to spend their disposable income on fun things like big screen TVs, MP3 players, and cars. As far as I'm aware, parents generally don't mind or they reluctantly put up with this state of affairs.

My adolescent experience was totally opposite to those stay-at-home adult children. After attending Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind, I lived with a family that Mom paid to take care of me. This was because I needed to attend a special school in Edmonton that had counsellors to help me by recording reading assignments and with other sight-intensive tasks. As a result, I had to grow up quickly. In fact, my first landlady's expectations were, in my estimation, unfair. From my upcoming memoir, How I Was Razed (and How I found Authentic Christianity), here is an excerpt about how I was expected to make an adult decision while still being a child.

***

Sometime during the summer, I complained to Mom about the long journey to school each weekday. "If I could live within walking distance, it would give me more time to do homework and relax," I suggested. When I enrolled for my grade nine classes, Mom had still not found a new boarding room close to the school. This uncertainty caused considerable stress between Mrs. Boyle and I. After three weeks of receiving no definite answer, she confronted me.

"Listen, Bruce, Will you be staying here another month or not?"

"I don't know. I've asked my mom but she hasn't told me anything yet."

"When will you know about what your mom will do?"

"I don't know. I'll ask her when I go home this weekend."

"I need to know now, not next week. You can't treat people like that, you know." As she began a tirade about considering others, I thought, "It isn't my fault that Mom hadn't found me a new place to live yet. I would never mislead anybody, especially Mrs. Boylle, about that." This situation seemed extremely unfair. I had no experience in finding new living quarters, my isolation at Jericho preventing me from learning most social and living skills. Fourteen-year-old children generally know little about adult responsibilities in any case.

"May I call my mom on the phone then?"

"Well alright but don't talk too long. It's long distance and you know how much that costs."

I dialLed Mom's number and briefly described the situation. "Tell her I'm still searching the newspaper for suitable boarding houses," she advised. Mrs. Boylle remained unsatisfied but she had to accept that answer for the time being.

***

Though I understood my landlady's dilemma, in that she needed to find a new tenant or lose a month's rent, I still fail to comprehend why she didn't call Mom herself. In fact, adults who use children as go-betweens ought not to criticize them when they let them down. It wasn't my fault that Mom hadn't found me a new place. On the other hand, she could have shown me how to do laundry, cook for myself, and understand the process of finding new accommodations. Many of today's twenty-somethings still appear to lack this knowledge.