Friday, October 16, 2009

Reflections on The Empty Nest

Today’s paper has a brief article about the Empty Nest Syndrome. Turns out that far from being a time when mom and dad mope around the house all sniffly-like while looking at the empty beds, the Empty Nest is actually a very positive thing, allowing couples to reclaim some space, have more time for travel and leisure, and enjoy their kids—from a distance.

The Blessed Middle Child turned 22 yesterday and has indeed left the nest. I miss her. A lot. But seeing her strike off on her own makes my heart sing too - since our primary role as parents is, after all, to prepare our young ones to go out there and live in that big wide world.

The Blessed Middle Child has not followed the easy road. At least the road that WE thought was the easier one. She has charted her own path from the moment she took her first breath and has consistently rejected most advice, counsel or "learnings of her people.” She lurched through adolescence but has quite miraculously emerged on the other side smart, unscathed and wise beyond her years.

There is little doubt that the unconventional routes she took have contributed to her becoming the interesting person that she is today. Here are just a few examples:

-In Grade 10, she struck a deal with the Lebanese owner of a pizza joint close to her high school. By sweeping his floors and wiping down his tables, she got an enormous slice of greasy pizza from him every day—which meant she could sleep in 20 minutes longer in the morning, skip breakfast, not make a lunch and get through her day without feeling hungry.

-She has had eight paid jobs since the age of 15, all of which she got by showing up in person and knocking people’s socks off with her straight-forward attitude and her aptitude for hard work. She has battled rats the size of cats in downtown warehouse cellars, catered guests at corporate events, had 4 a.m. hotel shift starts, scrubbed kitchens, washed floors, prepared sandwiches, ejected drunken patrons, and killed multitudes of bedbugs and cockroaches.

-She set off for a year of travel during which she lived in a tent, made friends from countries all over the world, slept on beaches, jumped out of a plane, saved a bird from a spider, surfed on sand, and snorkeled in shark-infested waters. She is the only person I know who has been on a boat trip with six Scottish strippers.

-She is politically incorrect and delivers astounding drop-kick one liners that will leave you shaking with uncontrollable laughter hours later.

Yes, she smokes too much, exercises too little and drinks Jager Bombs to keep herself awake. But she also cries at goodbyes and thinks nothing of giving a homeless guy 15 bucks.

And she still holds my hand in movies.