Cape Gazette
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Around Town

Enjoy the silence of the empty nest while you can

By Nancy Katz | Aug 23, 2011

Back to school time. A great many parents are starting to get ready for the event that is just around the corner. It is sure to bring a lot of smiles to parents' faces. Well, unless you have someone off to college or graduate schools; then you are looking at a tuition bill, where you can count on selling things like your own blood or at least a change in living conditions, such as moving into a box in an alley as your permanent residence.

That bill doesn’t even cover the cost of dorm room expenses, which will include such essentials as concert tickets, pizza deliveries and fines for plagiarism. At least there won’t be any laundry bills; no one in college ever changes their underwear - preferring, especially if it is a boy, to wait until it dissolves into molecules of dust. Sorry, guys.

I can remember a time when those now grown-up children excitedly awaited their first day of classes at their local elementary school. They could hardly eat their breakfast and fidgeted their way through getting dressed.

Their backpacks were loaded with paper, pens, pencils, their mom’s prescription drugs - now hold on a minute - it’s not what you think; usually it was just a laxative thrown in by mistake, and of course a nutritious lunch of peanut butter and jelly, which would remain uneaten for at least a month in the bottom of the Barbie lunch box.

Either that or it was traded to a more knowledgeable lunch mate for a package of dates that would still remain uneaten.

It was a new era of independence, one that I always acknowledged by waving goodbye from the front steps as they boarded the bus.

Of course, I would quickly jump in my car, don the wig and sunglasses I kept for just such occasions and follow behind the school bus for the one-minute trip to the local school. All the while I kept track of the bouncing ponytail, third seat from the back, through a high-powered set of binoculars. Yes, it was great they were finally on their own.

Now that this child is all grown up, getting off to college is whole different matter. Eating is not a problem; this one you can cross off your list. In fact, they haven’t stopped eating since they came home for the summer break.

Your grocery bills now are higher than the cost of a small yacht anchored off the coast of Dubai, which is where you wish you lived, with the price of gasoline for your car that your son has left on empty every time he borrowed it.

The only excitement going on in the house is the fact that they are up and out of bed while the sun is still in the sky. Yes, you will have to explain to them that unlike the classes that they have signed up for, some things do start before noon. It’s called tough love.

Most parents make the mistake when heading out to drop their kids off at college of furnishing what they think will be their dorm room. I can remember my mother measuring the windows for curtains and coordinating that with a comforter and towels.

All of these things my brother traded for answers to last year’s various, well shall we say, hypothetical tests. Hey, it’s not as bad as you think; he could never find his way back to his room anyway, at least on any given weekend, preferring to sleep on the couch on the front lawn outside the dormitory.

So, I would say, all you really need in this instance is the minimal, like a human body to register. All the rest is downhill. Oh, be sure and keep a photo and a set of fingerprints of your college-bound child. It’s just for recognition, because there is no way you will see this child looking the way he or she left. In fact, you probably won’t see them until graduation anyway. And that could be anywhere from four to eight years, depending.

Enjoy the empty nest silence while you can, because, as many people have said, “They’ll be back.”

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