I walk barefoot whenever I’m inside so I can usually ‘feel’ before I ‘see’ crumps or other debris underfoot, a tactile reminder that I have to be on the lookout ‘below’ as well as on ‘top’ of surfaces, you never really know when/where Miss Cathy might make a ‘deposit’.
Not to long ago I walked into the kitchen and there were ‘mystery’ spots all over the floor, it looked like the floor had broken out in measles. Granted the linoleum is old but I wasn’t expecting it to visually discolor as if it were disintegrating right before my eyes.
After some sleuthing I deduced that it wasn’t the flooring that was causing the discoloration, turns out Miss Cathy had been spilling instant coffee flakes whenever she made her cup of coffee, sprinkling the floor till it looked like brown colored confetti.
To her credit she will try her best to clean up her mess and I applaud the effort but unfortunately (sometimes but not always) leaving a bigger mess for me to come in after her ‘cleaning’ to ‘clean’.
Other times she’s blissfully unaware, moving from room to room, leaving behind one stain (spill or trail of crumbs) after the next; on countertops, carpet, floor or furniture, wherever she happens to be, there’s usually evidence that she’s been there.
Usually I clean up behind her, sometimes during the day but more often than not after she’s gone to bed and I can take my time in the quiet of the evening to cook, clean, get her meds ready and prepare the apartment for the next day.
Since I’ve never been a parent I find myself in a quandary as to what my reaction should be; should I just ignore the incidents or bring them to her attention as they occur, but if I do then what? And for what purpose?
Should I use those instances as a ‘teaching moment’? Should I take the time to show where she’s erred and/or how she might have gone about solving the problem or using a better solution to clean what’s been dirtied?
But, (selfishly I have to think about myself here) would making her aware of her actions just increase my frustration because lets face it, once the ‘moment’ has passed she’ll just forget till the next time and I’ll be explaining the same thing to her again (leaving me to feel like Bill Murray in the movie “Groundhog Day”).
Her reactions vary whenever I bring a spill or stain to her attention (much the way a child would react come to think of it), sometimes she’s surprised, other times she’s disbelieving that she could have been the culprit.
So, it’s a crap shoot whether or not she’ll take responsibility so ultimately it’s up to me to decide if I want to play a game of ‘there’s only tow people in this apartment and I know I didn’t do it so who might have spilled, stained, broken, smeared whatever, wherever’.
Is it to her benefit to know that she’s done something wrong (not ‘wrong’ as in ‘you stole a diamond necklace’ wrong, nothing on that scale but spilling coffee on the carpet isn’t exactly right either) or is it better (and more efficient) for me to leave her aware and just make things right?
I’m not looking to play a game of “gotcha” either; I’m just trying to navigate an age appropriate (and consistent) response to a loved one that’s (sometimes, because of her Alzheimer’s) acts like she’s seventy-five going on seven.