Zen and the Art of Child Maintenance

Last updated: July 9th, 2023 | Originally published: July 8, 2023
the Art of Child Maintenance

I miss Parker. I’m an 11 ½ hour car ride from him. He’s not so far away that I couldn’t just hop in my car early in the morning and be there that night… but it’s a long drive. And I don’t know if going to him would ease my anxiety the way I want.

Because there is anxiety. Lots and lots of anxiety.

From our daily video chats I can see our comfort threshold regarding cleanliness is different. When he gets groceries he puts the items away that need to be refrigerated or frozen, but he doesn’t see the point of putting the pantry items away since he’s just going to eat them. It puts extra wear and tear on the hinges every time you open the pantry door, he says.

When he was little he would line his matchbox cars up by size and shape — exactly like he lines up his boxes and cans of food on our dining room table.

the Art of Child Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Pest Maintenance

The beautiful desk we purchased just weeks before leaving town is piled high with mail and grocery bags.

The vacuum has a permanent place beside the kitchen sink, the cord coiled on the floor.

In the two months we’ve been gone he has taken two showers. Back of the napkin math would indicate he probably smells terrible.

Parker also has an ongoing battle with cockroaches. He has seen two in the garage — one per shower he’s taken — but has watched enough Youtube videos to convince himself that if you see one that means there are 1,000 you don’t see. So he’s living in a house with 2,000 cockroaches (still only two showers though).

I’ve had loads of traps delivered, and he has set them out. It would seem the problem has been solved.

Zen and the Art of Missing Parker
Add about 2.5 months to that ‘fro

Zen and the Art of Dodging Soap

Yesterday he called to discuss his hair. Its getting very long. Thankfully, its still growing out rather than down, so he’s got this huge, NBA-style afro. I think it’s adorable, especially if he puts a little jerry curl in to activate those curls. That would require a shower, though.

Now his hair is getting tangles because he doesn’t brush or comb it, and it’s painful cause dreads are forming. He asked if it’s long enough for cornrows and I think it is.

I told him to take a shower so we could see and then to call me back so we can assess it. He called back a few hours later, telling me he showered, but I could see he hadn’t. He’s a terrible liar.

I had fun complimenting how much better he looked — that I could tell he’d spent extra time washing his hair and styling it. He could tell I was lying, too.

Zen and the Art of Dodging Work

He’s still not working. We’re waiting for The Texas Workforce to “get him paperwork”, and his job coach to get him a “job placement”. His full-time job right now is watching as many R and MA-rated things as possible. He’s living the life he always said he wanted. He did a career explorations class in his sophomore year, and his life goal was to live on his parent’s couch watching TV all day.

Well,  he has arrived at his goal. His new goal is to make enough money to retire somewhere foreign where our American money goes further. Here’s the kicker… he has to get a job first.

I’ve told him to start going around to local businesses to try to set up his own job placement, since waiting on Texas Workforce has become maddening. Not maddening for him, of course; just for those of us who aren’t collecting rent.

He really does need a job coach to get his foot in the door and show him the ropes, and then I think he will thrive. We’re just not there yet, and it’s totally out of my hands. He’s an adult, and my mama-lawnmower skills are no longer relevant.

Zen and the Art of Missing Parker

Zen and the Art of Dodging Rent

So, we keep paying for him to live in our house, eating food that we purchase for him, and using internet that may go away if he continues to copyright infringe. It’s not how we envisioned it going. Our vision could still be a reality at some point, but it’s not yet.

I envision him getting life experience and making friends working a job that he’s excited about. I envision his hilarious sense of humor and his charismatic personality dazzling those he works with. The only person he’s dazzling right now is me, and I’m not that dazzled. I’m more worried.

Zen and the Art of Missing Parker
One year ago — his most recent hair cut

My mom asked for a Parker update the other day, and I lamented this lack of job/freeloading in our house situation. She reminded me of these key points:

1 He’s not on drugs

2 He’s safe

3 He’s learning that his dream life (couch + TV) is not very fulfilling.

4 Sometimes boredom is the best way for someone to get creative and make a change

My mom is so awesome with her wisdom!

Zen and the Art of Missing Parker

How the Other Half Lives

Apollo and Halea are making up for lost time in terms of how much parental attention they have been afforded. This feels long overdue.

The laundry is manageable. There’s more room in the RV and it’s not filled with tension. I don’t have blood pressure spikes from the embarrassment Parker causes me in public. I have more energy than I have in years. The food goes a lot further.

It’s like everyone has found a sense of calm, even Parker.

It’s not a perfect solution. The balancing act of overseeing Parker and increasing his independence will be ongoing for months, perhaps years. I am learning to be ok with him walking his own path.

Looking on from the sidelines is incredibly hard, but I am finding peace knowing nothing HAS to change right now.

Zen and the Art of Missing Parker

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