In many situations we know what is coming out of Papa’s mouth before he does. Sadly his brain is just not wired the same as it used to be and many of his comments are just habits, just a specific thing to say in that particular moment. It is just the first thought in his mind, what he is thinking at a right then, or possible just his way to start a conversation. In David Letterman style, here are his top 10 repeats:
10. Can I unbuckle yet? or Unlock the door! – Both of these relate to riding in the car and his quest to get out as quickly as possible. As we pull onto our street or enter a parking lot he asks if he can unbuckle his seat belt. Then as soon as we stopped the car, before the engine is even turned off he orders us to unlock the door. Most times we try to unlock the door before he has a chance to notice, but without checking he still makes his demand. We just smile and say it is open or try it now. We have tried to tell him he can unlock it himself, but that just doesn’t seem to stick.
9. The door is not locked! – This demand refers to both the house and the car. The moment he steps out of either the car or house he makes this comment. It does not matter if we are still in the car or if we are still making trips in and out of the house unloading items. Each time we kindly mention that we will go back and lock it when we are done. It is still open, I just checked. I am not sure of his reasoning as to why it needs to be locked immediately when it is obvious we are not done yet but we try to assure him that both the car and the house will be secure.
8. Are we going to McDonalds? –We cannot drive by a McDonalds sign without Papa asking if we are going to stop, it is his favorite “restaurant”. Actually, we cannot drive anywhere without him asking if we are going to stop by McDonalds, we do not have to drive by a sign.
7. You don’t drink coffee? or You don’t drink milk? or I never heard of anyone who doesn’t like syrup! – These are the most common food related repeats. We have the coffee pot and his special decaf coffee packets ready for Papa to make a cup or two of coffee each morning but it doesn’t seem to stick that we don’t drink coffee or milk. I thought everyone likes coffee? No, Papa, it just isn’t a part of our routine. Why don’t you like milk? I never heard of anyone who doesn’t drink milk. We can tell him we drink other beverages, but that is not one of the things that becomes engrained into his memory. Each time I put fruit on pancakes or French toast and he mentions not using syrup I am tempted to reply back asking him why he uses so much syrup, but I don’t….
6. The porch light is on! – Papa used to turn off all their outside lights, close the blinds put on his pajamas and lock himself in their personal fortress each evening before sunset. We are trying to make him understand that things happen a bit later here. Doug gets home later, we eat dinner later, and we go to sleep later. We also keep the porch lights on all night and turn them off in the morning, just as all of our neighbors do. I personally think the many crime shows he watches on TV play a part in his mistrust of strangers and he is trying to make the house more secure and invisible to all outsiders.
5. Aren’t you going to change your clothes! – Every night he wonders why Doug comes home from work in a shirt and tie. He doesn’t understand why the tie does not get loosened at all during the day, or at the very least the moment he gets in the car to drive home, and why he does not change clothes the moment he walks in the door. Ironically he has never said this to me, even if make dinner wearing a dress and heels. I am tempted to wear a tie one day just to see if I will get the same response.
4. You’re late! – I have repeatedly told Papa what time to expect me home from work and have padded that time slightly just to make sure he is not pacing in front of the house should there be any traffic on my commute home. He can never remember what time I have told him, never. It is probably partially my fault for not being on a consistent schedule. Several days a week I try to surprise him and come home earlier, and that seems to be the time he remembers. I can be 30 minutes early and his first comment is you are late, because the day before I was an hour earlier. I am glad my workday starts long before he gets up so he does not have more time during the day to think about what time we will get home.
3. You are cooking again? – Yes Papa, we do eat every day. J I have tried to explain that cooking is relaxing for me, I truly enjoy spending time in the kitchen cooking diner or baking desserts. He enjoys eating but sees cooking as work. I have him help while I prepare dinner each night, so we are able to spend more time together, most nights he loves to assist but every now and then he will sneak back downstairs and turn the TV back on. I imagine on those evenings he is really just thinking he would be happy going to McDonalds, see number 8 above.
2. How do I look? – I used to think Papa just wanted to hear someone compliment him, but I now believe that he really is worried about how he appears to others. We once made the mistake of not closely looking when he asked and I will not do that again. So our response has changed from “you look great” to really checking how he looks when he asks and then responding with “you look great, how do I look?” I want to assure him that while we are not as concerned as he is, we think about being presentable to others also.
1. Most frequently we hear – Sit down and relax!! – Papa is retired and thinks it would be nice if everyone were retired. We understand that he does not always think more than the immediate moment; he just wants us to sit and spend time with him. So, for a short time we sit with him before finishing whatever task we were working on. He does not think about the activities we complete are what goes into running a household, and it is just inconceivable to him to remember a time in his life when he was much busier. I know Daryl and Lisa have also heard this phrase multiple times, and I am not going to spare them. The next time Papa says, Sit down and relax!! I will suggest he call them to see what they are up to and maybe I will be able to spend a few quiet moments just making dinner.
Unlike raising a child, who learns from repeated responses, Papa will not remember many of the things we tell him on a daily basis. Some days are better than others and of course we are polite and try to be consistent in our replies, but that does not mean we don’t catch ourselves biting our tongues sometimes for the questions or comments that we know are coming. We understand this is not a choice; Papa does not repeat himself because he chooses to, he repeats things because that is what he knows and understands, it is his way to communicate. And, as always, we will do our best to calmly communicate back.