I think there is a fine line between parenting “kids” under my roof who are going on twenty years of age and letting them do what they want. But this line is a bit broader considering their learning disabilities, and my legal guardianship and trusteeship of them. Am I instinctively not giving them free reign (“can I have cereal for a snack?”) because this is how it’s always been? Surely they are able to listen to their internal clock and go to bed when they are sleepy, so why do I announce it’s time for bed every single night? This is all uncharted territory for me, not to mention these young women as well.
We had a similar discussion of such topics just the other evening. I wanted to make it known that I want to respect them as the adults they are. I wanted to make it known that I still am in the role as their father and I always will be but I wanted them to know a few important things. Stuff like it’s okay to eat whenever they’re hungry, that they don’t need to ask. If they wake in the night and feel the desire for food then go for it, not that anyone does that in this household except for me. I wanted them to know that this is their home, the same way it is mine. These are all things I assume they understand but I felt moved to state it otherwise.
And with it, I wanted to make it known that I’m simply trying to help them. They’ll constantly ask if they can have this or have that, or can you make me such and such. I’ll, of course, say yay or nay but at this point in the game I wanted them to know that it’s not as rigid as they’ve always thought, at least not anymore. Same goes with brushing their teeth and hair, and taking their meds. These practices are non negotiable considering their importance and especially for my daughters but I’m wanting them to do them to their frequency and not be needing my reminders.
But there’s the juxtaposition. They need someone, more specifically me, to do that for them. And there’s the coughing. One girls coughing makes sense, it’s her now-condition, and it scares me to my core. My other girl had always had a cough and she’s the one that lies in bed hacking at night, also chilling me to the bone. Why am I faced with such illness and even worse… it’s not mine to bear, it’s theirs. We’re burdened by the minute.
Ultimately, neither of us are going anywhere soon and that suits us all just fine. This transition playing out before my eyes from children to adulthood is daunting but I think I’m doing alright. Maybe I can learn to ease up a bit and watch them further their independence because if ever there was a time to do it, it’s now. And as needy as they can be in regards to me, I feel important if it’s only just for them.