When I have a free moment, I love to kick back and read a magazine. Recently however, I have seen numerous articles featuring empty nest syndrome. Despite the fact that it sounds like a male pattern baldness disease, these magazines offer step by step suggestions on how to deal with this depressive cycle of having the kids leave home.
My children are at an age where they still have a few years before they will ride off to college in a two-toned Rambler with matching duct tape seats. But I’m not worrying about the empty nest syndrome. You see, this affliction is for people who don’t remember the childhood stages. In our home we have three “blessed children” who all believe that my universe revolves around them. Each possess the uncanny ability to make me revert into my father. I find myself saying things and mimicking him the way he used to yell at me. This bizarre channeling episode occurs mostly in the family vehicle while on extended trips.
With three children ranging in age from post wean to teen, our home can be best described as loud and chaotic. The youngest child has his own philosophy. With all things, the family shares. With his own things, he doesn’t have to share. The oldest child wants his privacy. In a home with one bathroom, you can envision the logistical problems. The middle child is the family referee. She makes sure we buy three boxes of the same cereal so that all can have the same prize. Heaven forbid that there are four pieces to the set. To make it equitable, the equation becomes, ( 4 different prizes x 4 cereal boxes x total children in the house = 16 boxes of cereal to ensure fairness.) If you don’t believe me, you should see my pantry. Other than my one can of olives and a bottle of Tabasco sauce, the place looks like a General Mills warehouse. If however a full compliment of cereal choices would ensure peace and tranquility, I’d buy stock in every major cereal company in America.
Each of our “cherubs” find ways to irritate each other while pushing the limits of their parent’s patience. The latest game is to call each other names they have heard on the evening news. We then have to break up the verbal battles by saying, “No honey, you’re not Nancy Pelosi.” “No son, you’re not James Carville.” Thank goodness we haven’t heard any politician’s mistress name. I have even had to reassure my youngest child that the dinosaur, Barney is not his role model as his older brother claimed.
Yesterday, half asleep, I hopped into the shower. I stepped on three matchbox cars, a hairbrush, a boat, and a Barbie head. The bathtub debris looked like Mardi Gras had come to Gilligan’s Island. It has been this way for ten years.
I have found the secret to getting over the “Empty Nest Syndrome”, keep a diary. That way when your wife pines for those years when the kids were small and you think they were the best years of your life, you can open it to page 153 and you can prove they weren’t.