Sunday, 14 September 2014

House-sharing, OCD and father figures


Next month we'll have been living in this house for three years. Three years! Doesn't time fly?

The reason for buying this house jointly with my younger brother T, who had yet to step onto the property ladder, was purely to make a bit of equity and - after 5 years - sell up and buy our own separate properties.

I'll be honest, the last three years haven't all been plain sailing. It was always going to be a bit of a risk, and plenty of people (including our sister) warned us off, saying it would never work and, my god, there have been plenty of times when I thought they were right. Living with a sibling when you're still kids and growing up in the family home is one thing, but living with a fully-formed adult sibling is quite another, and not one to be ventured into lightly.

And, after so many years of living in an all-female household, getting used to living with a man again
T's tidy food cupboard
T's OCD food cupboard. And in the three
years we've lived here I've never seen him
have a bowl of soup.
took quite a bit of adjustment on our part. Tall Daughter has no memory of her dad living with us (she was only 3 when he left) so for a while she found the new set-up really difficult, and The Teenager took a while to get used to T's extreme tidiness (see photo evidence).  Actually, scratch that, we all still struggle with it.

Added to that, T has some strong opinions on anything and everything you care to think of, and as I'm not short of a few of my own it's led to some interesting times as the Chinese curse goes.

But 3 years on and we're all still in one piece, and better still, we all seem to be getting on really well. Eek, I hope that doesn't jinx it!

By far the best thing that has happened, is that T has become a father figure to my two girls.  He's always been a great uncle to them, but recently I've noticed it's developed into something more substantial.

They look forward to him coming home from sea, enjoy talking to him, they pull his leg, get under his feet when he's trying to do stuff, and seem to spend equal amounts of time laughing or bickering with him.  He, in turn, takes a genuine interest in them, how they're doing at school, their latest exam results (and knows which subjects they worry over) listens to them, gives them advice (whether they like it or not) and is very generous with both his time and money. Oh, and he gives them lifts to and from school/college in his flashy sports car.

Last year there was a lot of  hoo-haa in the media about single parents and the lack of father-figures, and at the time I said that role doesn't have to be filled by the father, and it's true.  In our case, T has stepped up to fill that role and is making a significant difference to the girls' lives.

I'm not sure what'll happen over the next two years but T's role as a father-figure has blossomed at a time when both girls really needed it, and if he wasn't such a grumpy sod I'd tell him how much I appreciate it. But because he's not one for any emotional nonsense, I'll have to hope he picks up my words of appreciation telepathically. Thanks T.