[Noun; ~Pronunciation: /par-uh-gon/]
- Definition: Instead of effortlessly trying to re-install some common sense into your parents, set a good example by exhibiting the desired behaviour yourself. In other words: stop complaining to get something done and be nice for a change.
“I’m not saying I’m a paragon of virtue, but it’s hard for me not to be honourable”
– Wayne Rogers –
Since my mother’s cancer she hasn’t been the same. It was about five years ago that she got diagnosed and started treatment, and ever since then she’s not been her old self.
Which is fully understandable, although I often forget. Not because I want to hurt her, but because I am so mad I’ve lost my mother I tend to get very snappy around her at times. Especially when she’s forgotten something again or seems to not be paying attention to what anyone is saying.
I know where it’s coming from, but at times I find myself being angry at the situation, at the pieces of herself she’s never recovered, and I snap.
Luckily, the same cannot be said about my father. I mean, he is even snappier than me and it seems to be a continuous state for him, but what I mean is luckily he’s not been sick and is doing fine physically.
Mentally, it’s another story.
My father retired last year and has since refrained from doing anything worth mentioning in the household. He helps clean the dishes twice a day (we live a pre-historic life without a dishwasher) and he vacuums the floor once a month or so. And he fixes things around the house, but only when prompted several times over, usually with a little extra incentive by the use of bad words and/or threats (“if you don’t do it, I will!” – he knows we’ll only make it worse).
My father’s idea is that as a retired man he’s entitled to be spoiled, well taken care of, and off the hook regarding whatever household chore you can imagine. Me and my mother, on the other hand, don’t necessarily agree. We let him have his time to adjust to the new situation (as we needed to do so ourselves, too), but that time has passed.
I am thus trapped in the middle, with a mother who cannot keep her focus and a father who’s all moaning and groaning around, telling people off for everything while not doing anything significant himself.
Actually, I believe he’s gotten worse, because he now also assumes me and my mum will go around after him to clean up his mess. There’s been several occasions already in which he seemed unable to throw his dirty laundry in the correct hamper, if any hamper at all. Or make tea for his daughter when I come down for breakfast and he’s making coffee for himself. He won’t even offer or ask.
My latest attempts at conditioning my parents (think Pavlov’s dog) have proven unsatisfactory. Yelling at them doesn’t seem to work either and only makes me feel like a villain.
So what is there left to do?
I think I need to set an example, I need to become a paragon for good behaviour. For my father, so he won’t be upset with my mother any more when she’s being forgetful or aloof. And so he remembers to put his dirty clothes in the wash.
For my mother, so she won’t feel bad when she’s telling the same story again without realising she is, and to make sure what she really forgets is how much she’s changed for the worse after her cancer.
And for myself, so I won’t be prickly all the time, raising my voice so much or slapping my forehead every two minutes (it’s only going to leave a nasty red mark anyway).
Patience is key, and if you can’t tell them what to do, you better show them instead.
Like Kung-Fu Panda in the picture: let’s be a paragon to those around us and show them how it’s done 🙂
How about you? Are you a paragon to anybody or is someone an example to you?