The small child (mine/yours) pitches a fit when (s)he doesn’t get what (s)he wants. Trouble is, we have no idea what (s)he wants. “Use your words,” we say. “When you stop whining I can understand you,” we say.
Our teenager sulks when we don’t have the right food in the house. “What do you want?” we say, “I’ll get it.” “Food,” is the helpful reply.
Our partner goes on a verbal strike when we don’t do what (s)he expected us to do. Except we had no idea what was expected.
Mama doesn’t pitch a fit, or sulk, or stop speaking. She just waits patiently until I figure it out and offer it. Then sometimes she says yes, she would like that. Usually she adds, “but maybe another time.” Then I have to guess when the right another time is.
Thinking she probably doesn’t know what she wants (I have the same malady – the apple doesn’t fall far; plus she has dementia) sometimes I just do what I think she needs. I am generally wrong. Or I suggest something I think she might like to do and she says, “If you want to.” No, I don’t want to, but I am happy to do it for/with her. That’s the part of it I want to do. Then I have to figure out if she really wants to, or if she really doesn’t want to. It is maddening. It is driving me mad.
On the rare occasion, like this week, she says, “Yes! I have been wanting that.” “Why didn’t you just ask?” I ask. “I didn’t want to bother you,” she says. She has had children (three), teenagers (three), a spouse. Surely she knows how exhausting mindreading is. I tell her for the umpteenth time to just tell me what she wants. She says she will, with the caveat that I will tell her if I would like to do it later, when I finish whatever uber important thing I am doing. I know she won’t, because another of her lifelong issues is a belief that she doesn’t deserve what she wants.
I am not paid enough to mindread. On the other hand, a pay increase wouldn’t amount to much. But not having to mindread would make my unpaid job so much easier; and more enjoyable. At least I would know I am making someone’s day. (Yes, I told her it would give me joy; that’s why she said she would tell me. She does like to be of service to others.)
On Saturday, we went to lunch and for a drive. After spending 30 minutes convincing her that I had time and wanted to. It made her happy. It made me happy.