Mar 11, 2013 0 Share

Defiantly Compliant

Illustration of teenage boy with baseball cap on grunge background.

I took Cameron to the mall last weekend, and oh what a joy that was! Usually, Cameron enjoys a trip to the mall. He goes his way, I go mine, we meet at a designated time and place, and everyone is happy. (Especially after we’ve each had our favorite milkshake.) This time was different. This time there were tasks at hand that required Cameron’s involvement, and he was not very enthusiastic about this involvement, to say the least. I guess I should consider myself lucky that I very rarely consider my son unpleasant to be around. I wish these thoughts of gratitude sprang to mind when I’m in a crowded mall dealing with a very grumpy young man.

The tasks requiring Cameron’s involvement were rather straightforward: he needed new glasses, new shoes, and a new battery for his watch. Of those three tasks, the watch battery was the only thing Cameron wanted to accomplish. (For someone as punctually proficient as he, a lagging watch is an extreme nuisance.) I was taken by surprise, however, at how reluctant Cameron was to participate in the process of picking out new glasses and new shoes. At the glasses store, I got a lot of “Eh ... yeah, they’re alright.” I never felt he was expressing his true opinion, until we got down to ordering a pair of frames, and he finally said that the color wasn’t really speaking to him. And so we began the selection process anew. Still not much enthusiasm, but a selection was made. When we returned to the store to pick up the completed glasses, Cameron didn’t want to wear the new frames. I can understand that his eyes needed to adjust to the new prescription, but a week went by before I noticed he still wasn’t wearing the new frames. I finally prompted him to wear the new frames the next day, and he complied.

So we got through the glasses purchase, but on the way to the mall I realized that he was wearing the same athletic shoes I had purchased for him three years prior. (What can I say? Time flies!) I told him it was time to buy new shoes. Cameron seemed to take offense at the idea. Of course, when it came to picking out shoes, he gravitated to the most expensive variety. I was grumbling. He was grumbling. I requested the wrong size. The sales person was rolling his eyes. Finally, we bought some shoes. I preemptively prompted Cameron to downgrade his old shoes to lawn mowing shoes and wear the new shoes to the gym from now on. He complied.

I must be a glutton for punishment, because I heard myself asking Cameron on the way out of the shoe store if he needed any new shirts. “NO!” So, we got milkshakes instead. Between sips, I “gently” suggested that Cameron go through his seemingly endless pile of shirts and get rid of the ones that are too small. Five days later, I noticed one of his T-shirts in the donate pile at home. So yet again, he complied. I don’t know if I’ll ever understand Cameron’s reluctance to part with the old. But I am eternally grateful that even in his grumpiest state, he remains compliant.