When we started the kitchen renovation I had visions of involving the kids in the process, getting them to help install cabinets, mud drywall, paint and so on. They did a little of that, and a lot of adapting and contributing to coping with the mess and inconvenience, but it turns out that the most useful lesson may have been a metaphorical one.
"Sometimes," I told Erin today, "when you're in the middle of making some really nice changes to your house, the mess and chaos are almost overwhelming. Sometimes you wish you could just forget it and go back to the old way, but you realize that it'll be worth it, because the new kitchen or family room or deck or whatever is going to be great. It's just a fact of life with renovations... things get a lot worse while they're getting better.
"The same thing happens with the insides of kids (and adults too sometimes). They're growing up, maturing, becoming more responsible or more capable, preparing for a change for the better. But it's like their insides are renovating. It can be a big mess in there for a while.
"Sometimes it's easy to forget, or not realize, why the mess is there. Things inside you just stink, big-time. And it spills out, like with snits over borrowing Noah's Heelys. And it drives your mother nuts to have seen evidence of all this growing up but then to be hit with the metaphorical equivalent of washing dishes in the rain with a garden hose. Lousy stuff, stubbornness, irrational behaviour.
"Probably we both need to remember that you're in a process of renovating. It's going to be messy sometimes.
"Here... have a chocolate."
Things are better this evening between us.