Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mixed Messages

Ice in Houston? Mother Nature sends mixed messages, too
I’ve sent mixed messages to my grown children. Why, then, am I startled when I get them back?

On a recent out-of-town trip, my husband and I and our daughters stayed in a hotel that offered a free breakfast. As Hubs and I finished our morning coffee, I asked him to phone our daughters’ room and remind them breakfast was being served just off the lobby.

He shook his head. “If they were in their twenties, I might remind them to eat breakfast, but they’re in their thirties. I’m not going to tell them to eat.”

Put that way, I saw my ridiculousness. My only excuse is that I look at my grown girls and see them as the adults they are and as their five-, ten-, and fifteen-year-old selves. I bite my tongue to keep from urging them to put on hats, keep their cars’ gas tanks half full, and wear sunscreen. (Okay, most of the time I bite my tongue. I’ve been known to ask if they’re warm enough, cool enough, or need a snack.)

You might expect a mother like me to be sentimental and treasure her grown kids’ softball trophies, Girl Scout uniforms, and stuffed animals. You’d be wrong. Once my daughters moved out, I reclaimed the house and only kept things of theirs I could repurpose to suit my needs.

When a recent cold snap hit Houston, my husband was traveling for business. He texted me to wrap the house’s exposed pipes—again. I’d already wrapped them in foam and duct tape and then looped toweling over the foam. “I’ll take care of it,” I said.

I looked around the garage and grabbed an old sleeping bag—the kind little kids take to slumber parties. I draped that around the outdoor spigot, tucked it around the piping, and stopped just short of telling it a bedtime story. For good measure, I shifted the garbage can so that it served as a windbreak. Done!
Slumber bag wrapped around spigot
A couple of days later, I left town, and Older Daughter came over to check the house, feed pets, and take out the trash. Wouldn’t you know the slumber bag I grabbed in haste belonged to her? She thought I’d thrown it out, and her feelings were hurt. “Why is my Beauty and the Beast sleeping bag in the trash?” she texted.

Uh oh.

Guilt sank its claws into me. It didn’t matter that my daughter hasn’t slept in that slumber bag for at least two decades. “It isn’t in the trash. It’s next to the trashcans. I used it to wrap the pipes,“ I texted back.

“You’re not throwing it away?”

“No.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her I usually use it to cover tropical plants during freezes.

“That’s okay then,” she texted back.

Whew. I resolved to wash the thing and move it into deep storage. That is, unless I could get rid of it for once and for all. “Would you like to take it home with you?”

“I don’t have room for it.”

Shoot. I’m stuck with Beauty and the Beast forever.  “Okay, then.”

If I treat a thirty-year-old like a five-year-old, I can’t be surprised she clings to a blankie. Although, come to think of it, she didn’t cling. She accepted the slumber bag’s use as a pipe protector but wants to think it will always be in the family home, waiting for her next visit.

I guess I can live with that.

What about you? Have you sent mixed messages that turned around and bit you?  If a hotel offers a free breakfast, is it a must-have or do you pass? 


Anonymous said...

Hi, Pat,

Why bite your tongue? Your children, even if they are adults, are still your kids and you can tell them to do anything you want, I guess. Oh sure, they might get annoyed - I'm still told every day to "wear a hat" (I HATE hats), put on my gloves (which I lost on Tuesday night at school because I got involved talking to a young student and left them on the desk. I'll check w/lost & found next week, but in NYC I'm not sure they have lost and founds anymore), etc.

My Mom is 93 - she can tell me to do anything she wants.

Regarding hotels, I used to travel for a living (which I think I mentioned in a previous comment) and the one thing I hated was the breakfast in the Concierge lounge where you had to fight with other business people and obnoxious tourists to get a piece of toast. To this day I love to eat breakfast alone with no one bothering me. I guess I sound terrible - it's just that little bit of private time I like.

Hey, you were really lucky to find a hotel w/breakfast. I hope it wasn't one of those Airport hotels near Newark Liberty International :).

- Patrick

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patrick,
I try to annoy my children only on an as-needed basis. If they're cold, they know to pull on a hat or gloves. Like you, I hate hats and have no business telling others to wear them.

Anyone who has had to travel for a living is entitled to eat breakfast alone. Business travel isn't fun.

Hope you find your gloves.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

Oh boy. My mom still reminds me how to do laundry, and to send my great-aunt a birthday card. And yes, it's annoying because doesn't she think I'm capable of remembering on my own? OTOH, I always ask my daughter if she has everything before we take her back to college after a weekend (or more) at home. This usually gets the eye roll (she's 18) and "yes, Mom." Last time I didn't ask, thinking OK, she knows to check. Sure enough, she forgot a whole bunch of things--including her clean underwear!

We always go for the free breakfast at hotels, unless we really want to sleep in!

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Jennette,
We're damned if we do and damned if we don't, but I bet your girl will pack her clean underwear next time.

I love it when someone else sets out food for me, so free breakfast appeals to me. Also, what's not to like about free? Unlike Patrick, I don't have to fight with business types for food between 6-7 a.m. on concierge floors. At 8 in the morning, the people-watching is great at ordinary chain hotels.

Patricia Rickrode w/a Jansen Schmidt said...

That is a funny story. I don't have any problems throwing things out - usually - unless it's my stuff. My folks had at least one box of my junk - I mean stuff - from when I moved out. After my mom died and my dad moved into his new house (at my insistence) he told me that I had to come and get my stuff. I had no idea what he was talking about, but like a good daughter, I drove over to his place to get my "stuff." My little league trophy, my basketball medal, my baton, a box of barely used crayons, some really old Barbie clothes that I'd made for my dolls about a hundred years ago, and such other - um, junk - occupied those boxes. Did I throw them away? Nope, they are now sitting in my storage room along with some of my mother's things (clothes I'd worn as a baby, etc.). I'll probably not look in those boxes again for a very long while, I by Golly, they're not going to the dump.

It's weird how we latch on to somethings but don't give a darn about others.

I'm glad you decided to wash your daughter's sleeping bag and keep it handy. Nobody wants to suffer the loss of a favorite sleeping bag, no matter how old.

Fun post, Pat.

Patricia Rickrode
w/a Jansen Schmidt

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Patricia,
I'm touched your parents kept your trophy, medal, crayons, baton, and hand-made Barbie clothes. Each item represents a skill you acquired and a particular point in your life. It's also touching your mother's saved items include your baby clothes. In other words, the things your parents latched onto were about you. ( I'm sniffling a little now, probably from tree pollen.)

aroseisarose said...

Funny, I can't think of a time you've held back from telling me what you think I should do.
I can, however, think of a great many times I've brushed off your urgings only to regret it later. Cliches are cliche for a reason, and as much as it pains me to say so, my mom is (almost) always right.

That said, it is a blanket, not a sleeping bag, and I love it. Plus, it has sentimental me. I would have taken it home that day, but I didn't want your pipes to freeze! You're welcome.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Whoa! Thanks, Older Daughter.