It is true that Miss Cathy is a septuagenarian but her behavior is (at times) more like that of a seven year old, due to the unfortunate fact of her Alzheimer’s.
And while Alzheimer’s (in and of itself) is hard enough to get used to, what with the short term memory loss and decreasing cognitive skills, I’m finding the act of ‘parenting a parent’ challenging since I’ve never had a child myself.
It’s not all bad, sometimes I look at her face after she’s correctly identified what time it is from a clock on the wall or figured out where the silverware goes and she has the joy and glee of a young person just discovering the world, finding happiness in the simplest of things that most adults would dismiss as irrelevant.
But, the quandary for me as a ‘new parent’ is what to do with her during those ‘other times’ (more often than not) when she’s less a ray of sunshine and more a downpour of chaos and frustration.
I mean, it’s not like I can put her in a ‘time out’, (1) she wouldn’t cooperate and b) what’s she gonna do sitting all alone in her room except forget why she’s been sent there in the first place.
It’s not as if she’s indifferent or doesn’t ‘try’ to clean, she does (mostly) but sometimes her ‘cleaning’ leaves a bigger mess than was there originally.
So, whether it’s peanut butter fingerprints on the stainless steel refrigerator door handles or strawberry juice from cutting up the fruit on the Formica countertops there is always some sticky surface to clean.
Her actions are well intended, and it’s obvious that she’s unaware of some the mess(es) she makes but like most children her ability to properly follow through outweighs her desire to perform if/when she tries to clean up after herself.
I vacillate between being super supportive (“Good effort”) to mildly critical (“You’re using the wrong product to clean up that stain”), it’s a balancing act, and I know from watching movies and friends with kids that consistency is the key but who knew it would be so hard to unlock.
There are times when I envy (the fictional) Maria from “The Sound of Music”, all she had to do to keep her brood of Von Trapps in line was to sing, “Doe a deer, a female deer”, they knew their wrong from Reich.
I only have one (very real) charge and it’s all I can do in a day to carry out the garbage let alone a tune.
Besides, my hills would be alive with the sound of screaming from a day of constant cleaning.