Many children came home for the holidays, ours included. We enjoyed them and sent them back to their homes. What happens when grown children come home permanently? The rules change.
Once, we the parents made the rules; now our children make the rules. When our children moved back to Pagosa permanently, they were concerned we might be like we had always been. Why would we change? Of course we would act like we have always acted. We are the parents. So our children moved home, sat us down and issued Al and I new walking orders.
Al and I have been empty nesters for twenty years. I used to look around and say, “Where are my children?” They lived from one coast to another and out of the country.
The first set came home five years ago, they wanted to leave the city and raise their children in a small town. They wanted to give them the opportunity of playing sports and a better life, maybe not so much a bigger life, but a better one. Also they wanted their children to have a sense of family and know their grandparents.
The first instruction was, don’t discipline our children. “If you discipline them, it will confuse them. We will discipline them ourselves and Daddy, don’t yell at our children.”
Al and I said, “Okay.” We rolled our eyes at each other and thought, “We hope we can do that. When we see things we don’t like, we need to keep our mouths shut.” That’s the second rule.
Now our youngest daughter has come home. She was very successful in her business, but missed family and had talked about coming home for years.
Her instructions to us were, “I‘m not moving home because I can’t make it on my own, and I am not living with you, I am living by you. I don’t want people to think I can’t make it on my own.” Okay, the third rule is, say it the right way.
Now our daughter has acquired a brand new puppy. “Daddy, don’t feed my puppy from the table. Keep her inside, she gets cold. I need for you to take care of Daisy while I work.” We now have a Puppy Day Care.
“Would you mind turning up my heat before I get home?” “Of course, “we say. Fourth rule: Be on call for your children.
Our other children ask us, “Pick up the kids at the school; one of them left their homework, do you mind taking it to school?” and Al and I say, “We would love to. We don’t mind.”
These articles for the newspaper have now become the hot spot in the family, of course all in jest. They know I am going to tell all and have nothing to hide. My son-in-law tells everyone to watch what they say; it might end up in the newspaper. The things that once were family jokes are now public domain. Don’t make family business public business, that’s the next rule.
Of course, I can’t heed to that rule, I am on a roll. I am thrilled to be writing and I am grateful someone is reading what I write. The family pretends to be offended, but down deep, they like it. My son warned me today after reading Traveling with Sweet Al, “It is one thing to be funny but another thing of giving the persona of being rednecks without teeth. Some times you cross the line.”
Who changes when children come home?
No longer do we put them on a curfew; they put us on a curfew. No longer are we embarrassed by what our children do; now they are embarrassed by what we do. They don’t want to worry about us, so they tell us when and what to do.
I know we drive our children up the wall, and we’ve been called on the carpet more than once. I thought we were very self-sufficient before our children came back home. They thought they came home to help us. I didn’t know we needed help, but apparently we do.
This holiday, all our children came home, we laughed until we cried, mostly at my expense. They all feel sorry for their Dad. I have been issued another rule: Stay away from Facebook.
“We would hate to block you,” they say.
I thought I was bonding with children and grandchildren and their friends, apparently not.
I can’t keep that rule; I’m having too much fun. It’s like when our teenagers were at home, they obeyed the rules when it was convenient, they had selective hearing and we now hear what we want to.
One thing for sure, we do not want to live without our children in the same town. They are our best friends. We need our children, they keep us young. I guess we need to learn the rules. I have forgotten them already.
Final brushstroke: It’s funny about family. They take on who you are and they don’t want to be like you, but they still want to come home and eat your food. It’s all good.
“Be careful the environment you choose for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose for you will become like them.” W. Clement Stone, Author, businessman and philanthropist
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