The other night I was over at a friends house and we needed to figure out how to shrink and copy an image before printing it. Why? What difference does it make why? We just needed to, okay? Fine. Whatever. We were crafting. Satisfied? Anyway, we were both stumped as to how to do this, so we did the only logical thing we could think of: we called her teenage son over to help us. I explained the problem we were having in as clear and precise terms as possible (“We can’t make the thing do the thing. And we need the thing”), and he, in the aggrieved manner of Marvin the Robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy being asked to use his immense brain power to pick a piece of paper up off of the floor, made a few clicks on the computer and showed us how to do it.
Then he showed us how to do it again five minutes later, when we forgot.
And then five minutes after that.
Then he left the house, which was odd, because up until that point he hadn’t mentioned having any plans to go out. That’s when my friend turned to me and said, “Yeah, he’s mentioned before that he’s tired of being the IT guy for the entire house.” She then shrugged and said, “ I told him I can relate: I’m tired of being the maid.” And then we went back to crafting (there might have been some drinking involved as well.)
After I got home I couldn’t get the IT guy comment out of my head, mostly because I know that my own personal teenage boy, Clyde, has expressed similar frustrations to me when I make him leave his disgusting midden (AKA bedroom) to creep out into daylight and show me how to work the TV. He makes it clear in no uncertain terms that he can’t believe he is being forced to teach the same set of very simple steps to the same simpleton over and over again; when am I ever going to learn to do it for myself?
And I feel his pain, and his frustration. I really do. Of course, I might feel it more if I hadn’t, in the not so distant past, spent nearly a year teaching this very same grumbling IT guy how to wipe his own ass. And not stick forks in the electric outlets. And to never, ever, stick your head in the ball return at the bowling alley, even if you really want to “see where the balls come from.” (Okay, I’ll admit I might have been a tad late teaching him that lesson. What? He survived. And I’m sure he’s almost as smart as he once was.)
When our kids were much younger, and more frustrating (or rather: frustrating in different ways than they are now), my husband and I would fantasize about the way we would treat them when we were old and reliant on them to take care of us. “I can’t wait to throw my dinner on the floor!” I’d say. “Yeah. It’s going to be impossible to change my diaper,” he’d add. We were certain of two things: one, that we’d have to wait a good fifty years or so to get our revenge. And two, that said revenge was going to be sweet. We were wrong about the first part—it took fifteen years, not fifty. And the revenge was had not in the form of toddler-esque tantrums, but rather in making our kids show us over and over again how to use instagram and photoshop. But we were oh so right about the second part.
It has been so, so sweet.