School starts this week for many and very soon for most.
The parents of our kids’ friends become some of our friends. A gang of us got together here in North Puffin after all of our kids abandoned us for the bright lights of school and work to the loneliness of old age. We had the usual potluck suppers and camaraderie as well as canoe trips and concert nights and bank robberies.
So how did you feel when your youngest left the nest for college or wherever, especially if this was hundreds of miles away? another friend wondered on Facebook.
The answers varied from, “My youngest may never leave” to pride in “his readiness and enthusiasm to go” to a coast-to-coast flight “with him to help him get stuff to his dorm” to “I’ve already got TWO of my kids this > < close to being able to support me when I suddenly appear at their front doors with a suitcase.”
And, of course, boomerang kids have long made headlines as the once thundering and now sour economy had no room for them at the Inn.
My aunt moved six times to follow her elder daughter, my cousin, around the country including two sojourns when they all owned houses in South Puffin. That cousin now lives with her father.
My own parents moved in with my dad’s in-laws. My son moved in with his in-laws. Pragmatism drove both moves.
My mother’s mother died in 1953 leaving my maternal grandfather alone in the ancestral farmhouse. It was an easy fit to absorb a couple more generations, good for my grandfather who couldn’t have kept the place up alone and for my parents who also didn’t have the resources or time to manage the house and barns and lawn and gardens and fields.
As an only child, I almost never had a “baby sitter” and was almost never alone.
My son’s story is more modern. He married and moved in with his in-laws on the same day. It was meant to be temporary because the in-laws had a small house and the kids really wanted to be on their own. They were married, though, and needed to live somewhere. Inertia set in. Nearly two decades and a couple of grandkids later, when that house went on the market, the kids bought their own first house.
I wonder if all involved would have done better on their own?
My dad didn’t need to “make the mortgage” or even be terribly responsible for maintaining a household. Sure, he contributed to the costs and he mowed the lawn and did the normal homey chores but he fretted more over whether wood rot was chewing up the cabin on the boat than whether asphalt rot was chewing up the shingles on the homestead. Likewise, my son didn’t need to make the mortgage or even be terribly responsible for maintaining his household. Sure, he contributed to the costs and he mowed the lawn and did the normal homey chores but he fretted more over whether Vermont road fertilizer was chewing up the floors of his van than whether Vermont rust was chewing up the tin roof on the homestead.
Kids leaving the nest. Taking responsibility. Do the choices we make now to insulate our kids from life make it harder for them to live?