I stopped by my friend's house recently. She wasn't home, but her son Steve was there. He was back from college on a semester break. He was sitting on the porch, taking advantage of the unusually sunny day and reading Dylan Thomas.
"So, Steve, what’s going on?" I asked. He said, "Not much." He's been reading, and playing guitar, and doing some writing, and walking in the woods.
"Sounds good," I said.
Then I asked, "Are you going to be working this summer?" I couldn't resist playing parent.
"Sure," he grinned. "But: I need to find employment."
"Where have you looked?" I queried.
"Well," he said nonchalantly, "I made a few calls - landscaping, nurseries, the Muny opera. There's nothing. I got a lead from a friend, some sort of construction. Maybe they'll call me today."
"And if they don't?" I asked. (I'm like a dog who won't let go of a bone.)
"Well," he said, "I guess I'll make some more calls. Maybe I'll go to some businesses."
"So how else are you driving your parents crazy?" Now I was grinning.
Steve smiled and said, "My mom doesn't like my long hair. She says it makes me look rough. Personally, me, I don't care how I look.
"I also brought home a lot of stuff - a chest of drawers, some amplifiers, a chair, books, an air conditioner. There's not enough room for everything. So it's sitting around.
"When I first got home, I took my bed apart and put the mattress on the floor in my room. That also created a mess. I left the air conditioner out under the carport. My mom wants it in the house. She thinks it might get ripped off. I can't imagine someone coming here and picking up an old air conditioner. I'll bring it in the house when I need it."
"I see why you're parents could be annoyed, Steve. So what's your side of the story? How are your folks driving you nuts?" I could see a column in the making.
"It's culture shock," he said. "I have no freedom. I'm used to staying up 'till four o'clock in the morning and getting up around eleven. Now I can't make noise after ten at night. It's a whole different routine.
"I can't be loud. I like to play guitar, turn up the tunes. I can't do it when I want. I have to find somewhere else to go.
"They ask if I'll be home for dinner. I don't know if I'll be home. They should just go about their routine. Pretend I'm not here. But they don't do that.
"Mom wants me home early. She wants to know where I'm going. She nags about cleaning up the kitchen. She wants me to clean the garage. Put things in the basement I'm not used to people directing me."
When a child comes back to the nest, it's a substantial adjustment for everybody Usually parents only see how their lives have suddenly changed when a child reappears on the doorstep. And a child is only aware of how his lifestyle is suddenly altered. But for both parent and child there is an enormous adjustment taking place.
If a parent can empathize with the lifestyle change that their child is facing, and a child can grasp the modifications that the parent must make, each might be more respectful and appreciative of the other.
Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You” at Doris’ web page: http://www.doriswildhelmering.com.
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