Linda and I have just come in from a pleasant cool summer evening (compliments of global warming; thank you Al Gore!) sitting by the fire on the patio. We were not the only ones in the neighborhood who enjoyed the evening in that fashion. Two of our neighbors also had fires. The stillness of the night, with its back melody of crickets chirping was suddenly shattered by voices from the house with a fire about three doors down:
Mom: Tyler, come in here and put your clothes away.
Tyler (probably 16 or 17 years old and sitting by the fire): I’ll do it tomorrow
Mom: No, I want you to do it now.
At this point Tyler went into mantra mode, repeating over and over again: “I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it tomorrow; I’ll do it tomorrow ……”
This mantra provided the the counterpoint to Mom’s continued and increasingly agitated insistence: “No do it now … Tyler get in here and do it now … Tyler Now!” And so it went for a few minutes with Tyler in his mantra mode the whole time … “I’ll do it tomorrow, I’ll do it tomorrow …”
Now Mom calls Dad into the act! Dad was sitting by the fire next to Tyler the whole time.
Mom: “Mark will you make him come in and put his clothes away I’ve been working hard all day and I’m tired of arguing!”
Arguing? I didn’t hear any arguing going on. Tyler has put himself into a trance, it seems, with his mantra which still continues.
Dad: “Tyler, go pur your clothes away.” Dad now begins his own mantra, “Go and do it (I’ll do it tomorrow) Go and do it (I’ll do it tomorrow) and so on. This has been going on for about five minutes now and it’s getting pathetic. Mom and Dad on one side … Tyler on the other … it’s almost a harmonious syncopated rhythm.
Finally there is a crescendo … a banging door and deathly silence. I hope no one is dead.
I remarked to Linda that perhaps I should walk up and offer some neighborly advice on parenting young Tyler. Linda restrained me however and so we continued to sit and enjoy holding hands in the firelight.
My advice? Sure! “Mom, gather up Tyler’s clothes and carry them out and throw them in the fire! Then tell him that he has to replace them if he wants to with his own money.” I’ll bet she would only have to do that once :-).