By Lisa Batten Kunkleman
Families all over the place are experiencing reverse-empty-nest-syndrome. The birdies are flying back in from college with either big plans for work, internships, and trips or perhaps big plans for lying on the couch and playing video games. A summer of recuperation from the rigors of college life, they might call it.
What comes along with these college kids? Since we have twenty-year-old triplets, we get three times the “stuff” returning home. They bring mini-fridges, and microwaves to store. And there are those clear plastic boxes filled with paraphernalia like school supplies, first aid kit, tiny tool and sewing kits, paper plates and plastic ware that never got touched but insistent parents sent “just in case” you need these things. “Be prepared for anything.” We should call those boxes, Just in Cases. Many of us hold onto lots of those plastic storage boxes in closets and attics filled with our own just in case items.
Kids also bring clothes galore to their still full to capacity closets and drawers. All of our trio’s rooms look like a Bed Bath and Beyond meets Target and the entire mall and exploded. I have to confess that one of our kids keeps his room pretty neat and he lives simply with more “just what he needs” than “ excess and wants.” This poor organized kid’s room becomes an extension of the attic while he’s away which means we had to move clothes, sleeping bags, an exercise machine and a childhood tea set from his room before he’s home with his tiny load to stay awhile. Ok, I only moved my out-of-season clothes from his closet and the exercise machine and tea set are still in there, but we’ll work on it. To move things out means one must find room to put those things unless they’re leaving the building in donation bags. Fortunately for Goodwill, that seems to be the case with lots of old clothes they haven’t needed all year.
The other two kids have quite a task in front of them putting away their two semester’s worth of living supplies. Our daughter used her car as a storage container of her dorm stuff for several days to keep it safe from the teething new puppy she brought home. Surprise! She’s been driving her brother’s truck since he came home just long enough for his second knee surgery and then went back to school for exams. His school is only thirty minutes away and he can’t drive yet as his leg is immobilized for the second go around to keep it straight. He’s too long to fit in the driver’s seat with that straight leg.
So about that puppy, I went into a texting tirade when her brother called to prepare me in advance that his sister had bought a dog. By the way, you can’t take back what you say in texts anymore than she could take back that puppy. You have to be a big person and eat your crow even if you have to salt it first. I told my daughter she had tied herself down for the next sixteen years and not to expect me to puppy sit as I don’t plan to be tied down while she’s in Spain with her classmates this summer. I went on and on about all the downsides of her having a puppy. I must have lectured about twenty lines worth.
I’m old enough to know better than to say what I won’t do. We were all smitten as soon as we met the new puppy, Tucker. So I suppose the family and I will continue the house-breaking and crate training in her absence. I did apologize for my texting tirade, but she may have those words on her phone forever.
Our other son is thinking about getting a kitten from his girlfriend’s litter sometime this summer. That should add some more excitement to the nest. Let’s see, our three old dogs, our oldest daughter’s super hyper granddog who visits regularly, our cat that goes outside the box when stressed, this new puppy and perhaps a new kitten.
No problem. We’ll throw in all the kids’ friends, video games, board games, backpacks and shoes filling the living room. Oh, and drink cans and half-drunk water bottles nobody claims. I’ve almost got them trained to put their dishes in the dishwasher and not the sink. That’s progress.
The nest is full of noise and fun again for three months or so. Surely my hubby and I can handle helping potty train a puppy since we did so already with four kids. And three of them were at the same time. We’ve got this. It’s all good. It’s going to be a really busy summer.