Saturday, April 3, 2010

Empty Nest Syndrome

My children are my heartbeat. They are the jewels in my crown. They are the most common cause of the smile on my face. And I will be so glad when they finally move out and start their own households that I will do handsprings and the boogie-woogie down the substantial length of my driveway. I've already been doing the mom-thing for 34 years and, by my calculations, still have at least 6 or 7 to go before my husband and I enter what we call our Project Completion Phase. I really believe that Empty Nest Syndrome is a canard, dreamed up and promoted by some young adult that found out independence isn't all it's cracked up to be and wanted to move back home. If I’m wrong about that, then I'm convinced that I can offer a first class cure. As long as I have visitation rights, I will lease my kids to those who suffer from the malady.

When I first came up with this plan, I really didn't know how to market them. . .youngest to oldest; most driven to most laid back; most careful to most destructive. I mean the ways to arrange the arrays are almost endless. But I think I have it figured out so let me outline my newest plan and you can tell me what you think.

My firstborn is the recommended treatment for those with the mildest form of the syndrome. He’s all grown up and he's a GOOD man. He comes equipped with his own family and a house of his own – which needs to be placed within a two mile radius of the empty nest in order to achieve the maximum effect. His active ingredients include frequent drop ins on his way home from work; usually coinciding with our dinner time on nights his wife is serving leftovers, tool borrowing that most often results in parental retrieval; and fairly infrequent requests to babysit his 5 children – preferably in your nest and not his.

His baby sister is for more advanced cases of Empty Nest. She likes popcorn and pickles and requires constant access to both food groups. She will also eat chicken in any form except baked or boiled, fried potatoes, Popsicles, and pizza rolls but whines or refuses food altogether if you attempt to feed her any vegetables other than broccoli or any recipe containing even trace amounts of onions or tomatoes. She has a naturally sunny disposition but when she’s tired or stressed does develop her own drama queen version of Jekyll and Hyde. If you leave the room for more than 5 minutes, you never know who you’ll find when you return. She is currently away at college but refuses to stay gone for more than 11 days at a time since that’s as many days of clothes as she has and she can’t fit more than 11 days worth of groceries from the main nest pantry into the back of her car – which, BTW, is a lot nicer than the one I drive. When she is home, she uses the family room as command central and requires sole custody of the universal remote and any horizontal surfaces within reach of her throne for her books, her laptop, her cell phone and the dishes that never make their way back to the kitchen. The sandblaster needed for cleaning her assigned room and bathroom is not included in the base rental.

The most complex cases of Empty Nest Syndrome need a good dose of my middle child. He is a highly talented rock/blues guitarist that cannot be shipped express because of the equipment he needs to sustain life. Included in the base price, this unit comes with: 2 electric guitars, 3 amplifiers of varying sizes, various distortion pedals, 2 electronic keyboards and a bench, 2 computers that record and/or synthesize noises that sound like the screams of the Un-Dead, a TV, and a sound system with speakers large enough to enable him to share whatever he’s currently listening to with your closest neighbors – even if they live ½ mile away. At the end of the lease, you are required to keep this equipment. He pleads constantly for a set of drums and we have not yet located the mute switch for that recording. He does not require a closet since he never hangs anything up. On his own, without urging, he does shower at least once daily; will cheerfully shave upon receipt of the 15th request and will grudgingly get his haircut almost immediately after you begin to withhold meals. He is not a picky eater. You may find a coal shovel a more efficient eating utensil for him than a fork. For the Empty Nester that would like to see the merchandise before signing the lease, we offer the following directions to his current location. Go south on Clueless, about 5 blocks past Irresponsible, and then take a hard right on Stupid. There is no maximum time limit on his lease –it’s not like he needs to be anywhere. Since he found ping-pong in the Student Center vastly superior to his Algebra and Engineering classes as a worthy use of his time, he is no longer in school and is also currently unemployed although he is up by the crack of noon everyday to continue looking. You will need to exercise great caution when dealing with this unit or he will use every dirty trick in the book to negate his effectiveness as a remedy. He comes armed with GREAT smile, a genuine concern for the people around him, and warm and ready hug for anybody that looks like they need one.

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