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October 21, 2021

Worthy to Print Column | Leaving the Nest

When do we stop being the parents to our children? Or, for that matter when do our children quit being our children? For question number one, I would say we never stop being the parents of our kids, but there are extenuating circumstances that may require a little more introspective. I have what you might call, “Grown Children.”

I know that I have gone from knowing everything to where I don’t even get asked anymore. I don’t know exactly what you might call the children that have had the experience of growing up at home and have a little problem getting the fire lit that seems different in all children. When do they decide they are on the road to adulthood and that they shouldn’t be hanging around the house that they have been in all their life? These questions seemed to occur to both boys at the same time.

After college my boys seemed to be growing more each day. Even though we had added a small room when they both brought home a guest to sleepover, the square footage seemed to be getting too small for the house we live in. We would find ourselves bumping into each other in the hallway. Clothes seemed to be growing in piles in their bedroom, their car parked in the wrong space when I have to go to work or the last piece of pie eaten by some cretin that knows that it is my favorite pie. Oh! And nothing being put back where it belongs.

To me this would seem a good time to find a little apartment and start the new life as an adult. It was easy to say that when they were causing me some tenseness and I felt they were overstaying a period that their mother and I had agreed was generous. A time we looked forward to when a quiet glass of wine in the evening seemed like nirvana.

Since my two sons were raised in the same house and had the same rules, they both decided to move out at the same time. I should mention here that regardless of the arguments that stop just short of physical confrontation and the fact that the wine I was saving for a special night was all gone, last night fills me with confusion. I was not ready for them to say they were moving. 

I was filled with questions; where are you going to live? Are you going to have roommates? Are you sure you can pay the rent when this roommate runs out of money? I’m sure you can add all sorts of questions that would occur to you under the same circumstances. You know in your heart and using all your experience that this folly will not bear fruit. In other words, you know that for whatever reason, that these children, as much as you love and cherish them, are not ready for the travails of life away from their parents. 

Then you awake the next day and decide this was a terrible idea. However, I am fortunate because I have my angel to remind me. Every time I bring up the subject my angel would look over at me and with steel in her voice she purrs to me. “This was your idea! I hope you are happy now!” When she is in one of those moods, it makes the hair on your arm stand up. It’s possible that I read the warning in her voice, but for a moment I wished that I could catch those words as they would have kept my drink cold for the next hour.

I speak from this experience. This was not my first game of horseshoes. I had already seen my love, my daughter, go through all this. She would leave and then come back. I didn’t mind any of it, and since she was a girl my experience did me little good. However, she has successfully gone forth to save the world while she has become a mother, a grandmother, in addition to bringing two wonderful children into this world she has made me a proud great-grandfather. She never forgets a birthday or special occasion between my angel and myself with a card or phone call. She stubbed her toe a couple of times, but so did I, as did almost everyone I know that left home to become an adult.

As much as I wanted my boys to see what responsibility truly is; a skeletal looking creature shrouded in a dark robe and carrying a scythe. That’s what I always thought of when money was short and debts were long. I also did not want them to suffer. OK, maybe a little, just so they would know that I know of what I speak. Leaving home at 17 when I joined the military, I have no recollection of my parents shedding tears at my departure, so I could not give in to what I felt. 

The boys did move out and to my surprise and chagrin they made everything pretty painless. One moved to Monterey as he wanted a more cosmopolitan aura and thought he could find likeminded female company over on the Peninsula. The other moved in with a few friends and they split the rent to where it is equitable to all and found a wonderful girl that his mother and I would welcome into the family.

Now of course you wonder about my second question. When do your children quit being your children? I can only tell you my own experiences on this matter. The short answer is NEVER! However, I will admit that my day is always a little brighter when either calls or drops by.

They both live in areas that are not prohibitive for a quick hello and goodbye. We call each other often. To my knowledge they have never called for financial assistance. That call would automatically be switched to my angel. One comes by occasionally to wash his clothes. (I have told my angel she shouldn’t be folding his clothes anymore, but to no avail.) As a matter of fact, they both call her “Mommy.” She seems particularly proud of this fact. Her cheeks still turn pink.

I have studied this migration of children away from the first home they ever had. I have questioned other parents who have been down that road and I find that I’m not too far off the mark. There are a few statements that I’m not afraid to state as true: As I said above, we never quit being parents to the children that have enriched our lives. We are proud of just about everything they do. (Do not count the police escort that has followed them home for standing up for a friend. Those are times when they can bend anything I have ever told them to do under certain circumstances to fit this incident.) Never desert your friends!

God Bless. 

George Worthy
Gonzales Columnist
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