I've been sharing the good, the difficult, the worrisome about Bobby's journey to manhood for nearly three years now. He's made huge strides forward in independence, in moving out into the world by volunteering 28 hours a week in the kitchen at Meals on Wheels and a couple hours on Fridays at the local SPCA. He's happy with what he's doing and by all accounts helpful.
He cooks many of our meals, at home as well, and other than occasional missteps, he does very well. He never walks away from the stove and stays focused on what he's doing. Sure, he occasionally tries to spice it up so much that my tongue falls out, but overall, he is highly competent in the kitchen.
So it flabbergasts me that a week ago, while he was home for a couple hours alone, he chose to microwave his lunch, input numbers into the microwave that were far greater than needed, walked away from it, and came dangerously close to starting a fire--the dish melted in the microwave, the house filled with smoke, and even now, more than a week later, the smell of that burned/melted/utterly destroyed meal lingers in my house. We've got to replace the microwave, and I find myself questioning leaving him unattended at home at all if he can so easily get lost that he doesn't notice the problem until it's nearly too late.
It feels both like we've taken a huge step backwards and that we've been incredibly lucky nothing like this has happened before.
And yet, this morning, he donned a chef's jacket Kathleen had sent him and decided to make omelets, a dish he and his grandma had discussed. It was a wonderful meal (although more scrambled than omelet) and he was incredibly proud of himself.
I think that we stumble through each day together, all of us trying our best to do right by each other, and that when we slip, we work hard to make it right, but our life is far from perfect and some days are hard. Not just for me or Rick, or my parents, in our interactions with Bobby and trying to assess whether it's a good day or not for him, or whether we're asking too much, but also for Bobby, who tries to make sense of the world around him and the kaleidoscope of people and voices and demands for his attention.
It cannot be easy for him, and I cannot allow my hopes, wishes, or fears to in any way make it harder for him. So we're pulling back on time spent alone and insisting he stay with his grandparents those afternoons I can't be home, which he seems to be more than okay with. We're requiring him to pay for a new microwave, as well, but we're not yelling, we're not punishing. We're hopefully not overreacting. We're just navigating those uncharted waters together the best we can and hoping we'll reach the other side intact (and not smelling of smoke).