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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Irresponsible responsibility...

I saw an old friend last night.  He's in a bad way.

His adult child (30ish) lives at home having lost his job, the adult child's child (my friends granddaughter) is emotionally abandoned by her dad leaving my friend (grandpa) to take care of her.  The adult child is lazy, sleeps all day, burns through family resources by the boat load (food, gas, etc.), and brings home "bed pigs" every night while leaving his little daughter to fall asleep on the couch in front of the TV.

My friend's job is killing him.  Outside consultants come in and tell him they can't believe how much he gets done and tell him to hire three more people in order to reduce his workload.  He takes care of all his underlings and helps them do their jobs right.  His boss spends his day ordering useless crap online and telling my friend he needs to "step it up a notch".

I haven't seen him in four months because he's too busy - he has zero time for himself.  He's got serious health problems that aren't being addressed because he doesn't have time.

Sound familiar?  Sound like someone you know?  It does at least to me because that's how I used to be.

He's my age - we grew up in the 50's and 60's - we learned to be responsible, to take care of ourselves, to do what was right, to put others before ourselves, to sacrifice our needs before those of others, to be compassionate for those in need, blah, blah. blah.

I know where my friend is in his life.  We're like the old plough horses of the 1800's (that's funny - Google spelling doesn't even know the word "plough").  Solid, strong, quiet, reliable, dependable, always ready for work. 

Of course, everyone loves the plough horse - he never complains, always pulls his load no matter what it is, and without him the farm would fail.   Sounds too good to be true for the farmer's family, doesn't it...?  After all they never have to pull the plough themselves and when they want more, the old plough horse obliges.

So what does the family do - it becomes more and more reliant upon the plough horse - day after day, year after year: adding a bigger blow, fancier harnesses, more comfortable wheels and seats, larger fields.  Does the plough horse complain?


He just keeps on pulling the load.  That is, he just keeps on pulling the load until the day he simply falls over dead in the field.  Why?  Because to do less would be irresponsible.

As I said - I used to be there too - in fact, I still am in some ways and probably always will be, but that's not important here.

My friend, you, just like the plough horse, suffer from what I call "irresponsible responsibility". 

Responsibility - you know what that is.  Its why you are where you are.  Its what your mom and dad made you - its as it should be.  And, like the plough horse, you just keep pulling that ever-growing load. But, I doubt you made your mom and dad take care of you when you were thirty.  Why?  Because you are responsible - and responsibility works both ways.

I know you feel responsible for your little granddaughter.  But ask yourself this - if you in fact ARE responsible for her who will be there for her when you fall over dead in the field?  Junior?

I say taking on a level of responsibility you cannot manage is in fact irresponsible.

How so, you ask?  I ask would you go to jail for your son?  Would you pay all his fines?  His taxes?  Where do you draw the line?  If you destroy your life for his (or for your boss) - how is that meeting your definition of responsibility?

The solution is actually easier than you think - you're responsible to your own child.  Did you go to your mom and dad and ask them to raise your kid?  No.  If you truly want to help your granddaughter you're going to have to "man up" with some tough love for junior and kick him in the ass.

That's your responsibility.  Kicking his ass.  How will you know when you're getting somewhere?  Junior will start to pick up the slack.

(Unless he's on dope - in which case just send him to jail ASAP - six months will do it - otherwise you'll spend six years.)

Taking on his "load" of responsibility for his daughter simply delays his growing up.  If he doesn't grow up eventually your granddaughter will - in fact she will outgrow him.

I know how responsible you are and I am willing to bet that a lot you rubbed off on junior.  Its in there somewhere - all you have to do is figure out how to bring it to the surface.

Right now your level of responsibility is irresponsible because it jeopardizes your granddaughter's future.

If you die before junior learns to grow up where will she be then?
You're thrashing right now because you're making junior dependent on you instead of himself.

If you die, where does that leave him?

Though it doesn't seem like it the right thing to do is to use some "tough love" on old junior and get him to man up to his responsibilities.  That doesn't mean your granddaughter has to live in a cardboard box with junior under the highway - it just means junior has to think that your okay with that.

As for your boss?  Well, your enabling all this there too.  We he says "step it up a notch" you'll have to push back.  Again - its irresponsible not too - because dropping dead in the fields will f*ck up all you've accomplished there.

Hey - don't be a stranger any more...  If you need a hand let me know.  That's why I'm here.

Taking time for you recharges your resources - it lets you get a better grip on shit - let's you see where you need to go to - let's you psyche up for the ass whooping for junior - it makes you more responsible to see things as they should be and be prepared to steer the bad things in a new direction.

BTW - I hate to have to use this same tough love on your scrawny ass but you know, that's what needs to be done.

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