Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Common Good | Not Mine. Not Yours. Ours. The Dog.

Today my pets are no longer shared. They will get more consistent and better care. My home will also get more consistent care.  I will not wait for others to clean up after themselves.  Amenities where possible will be removed from those who have not earned them or fail to appreciate sacrifices that made them possible. 

The dog is getting old and finicky about his food. He has taken to pulling what he wants the out of his bowl and leaving remnants of bones and food on the floor. He has gotten leftovers of all sorts from everyone and often decides to leave much of it behind in his bowl. Good care consists of cleaning up after him twice a day and not putting the new food over old food in his dish. The seven year old puts new food over old food often when instructed each morning to 'Feed Jake.' He does not engage with our pets out of joy. 

Collectively we all failed the dog. Between all of the us a clean food area was not provided daily and care was rarely done for love of a pet. There is often a mess on the floor. As an unwanted chore, it is often poorly executed. Me, the dog's owner has cleaned up the area several times when it has gotten beyond disgusting washing down the food area and the bowls. Maybe a time or two this was done by another - but ultimately it was never done lovingly. 

When you live with others there are some living spaces areas and some responsibilities that are common. Many routines that should be daily. Maintaining routines help with understanding boundaries and expectations for succeeding in a shared space. Failure to understand the concept of common good "the benefit or interest of all' is failure to succeed.

Upon entering into the 3rd year of an extended family living arrangement the question I pose is: What have you done to contribute to the greater good since we last got together (3 weeks ago)? The reply: the dishwasher many times, swept the kitchen floor, the animals, cleaned stove-top, brought out the trash, helped my partner prepare our dinner. For the past 2 years, the now seven-year-old, has been routinely helping with the dishwasher and helping to feed the inside animals to 'gain responsibility of pet ownership". So why do what the seven year old is already doing is my gut reaction to these reply; but left unsaid. I heard nothing that answered my question about 'common' or 'greater' good. 

The niece reply was an echo in text message: I have vacuumed, swept, swiffered the kitchen, cleaned up after the dog, cleaned the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms and tried to keep up with the stove and the sink. 

Everyone has different tolerances for cleanliness. In some households these replies would have been what people were to do everyday or at least once a week. And in reality cleaning up after yourself is not truly contributing to the common good. There was some urgency to cleaning of the upstairs bathroom and the mold that was growing and toilet paper use training for the child.

Bathroom cleanliness and disappearing toilet paper was discussed at the family meeting along with things like better understanding of schedules, our three year time-line and what our home accommodations would cost in the market. I observed that in two years nothing of significance was done for the property nor done routinely in caring for our home with a for example to try to land the point:  Do you know where the town dump is or the Recycling Center. The simple ways to contribute.  We discussed the cycling behaviors on many fronts including parenting practices that quite frankly scare me. 

I suggest consequences because enabling, supporting and conversing and more conversing has not worked. I declare l want to follow-up in 3 weeks and if it is same old same old you will be immediately be reacquainted with Laundromats and the 3 year limit would be real. We agreed to get together in three weeks to be sure the helped were on a path that may enable this arrangement to continue beyond three years. It was up to them. 

They never intended to participate in a family meeting again. They considered sincere communicating a bitch and complaint session. As they were doing nothing to keep up their end of the deal it was an easy mind set to get into. But these conversations included many scheduling issues like closing pool, holiday scheduled, child care support and trying to locate missing household items like silver or tupper-ware.


This common arrangement began when a telephone call to my niece around Thanksgiving a few years ago. I said to my partner that maybe instead of helping strangers we could help family. I called to discuss her long range plans. This call had an unexpected immediate turn as it was revealed that her family was about to be homeless by Christmas. Instead of a conversation that may or may not have resulted in a arrangement the outcome became a generous support plan for her immediate family's future; a rescue from homelessness with full support for one year and near full support subsequently.

But this history has been rewritten in the minds of those who have been supported.   

We are now in a world where the baby-daddy has fallen into getting a low wage paying but full-time job so he is entitled to weekly card games with buddies, cigarettes, video games and sports on TV and the family car. The employment challenged mom is spending a dollar for this and that for craft projects (no recycle, reuse or plan philosophy), being the Boy Scout she was never allowed to be as a girl, birthday parties and creating the perception of a middle-class suburbia mom with requisite Facebook Selfies. 

There is no hustle to get to a better place in order to be self-sufficient. There is however room to blame those who floated the loan for the car tires and work clothes and school for the newest indebtedness which was essentially forgiven and being applied toward their well-being.

At the core of all of this is the seven-year-old boy who is becoming a child I may not want to meet on the street at age 13. And when all that he is becoming does emerge; severing this arrangement will be blamed not the failure to use this generosity to thrive.

In 26 months the question "What are you doing or can you do to contribute to the common good?" has been asked over and over. Contribution to the common good and maintaining one's path toward improvement was all that was asked of extended family. No money has been paid for the equivalent of a generously sized 2 bedroom apt. with amenities like cable laundry and all utilities market rate $1,250 base plus. 

The minimum goal of a common union of 36 months will either be modified amicably or painfully by the start of the next school year (32 months) because we are not family. 

The sad part is no real progress has been made but monstrous self-righteous-nous has been rooted. 

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