Here’s a 50-year-old man without four kids.
Here’s a 50-year-old man with four kids.
Here’s the savings balance of a man without.
Here’s the savings balance of a man with.
By the fall of this year my wife and I will be empty nesters, see image for a virtual representation. You see, this year our two youngest sons will be heading off to college… or Katmandu, doesn’t matter. The important thing is there will only be two of us in this small three-bedroom two-bath that was clearly intended for a husband and wife and possibly a dog. Yes, definitely a dog!
After raising four sons to various heights and weights the next phase of our marriage is just beginning. Time to pull out the old tennis racket, start swinging those clubs again (9-irons, not disco. Do they still have disco clubs?), organize a weekly poker night, and travel… travel… travel.
But before all that can begin, I need to dust off the to-do list that I began writing all those years ago when I thought this day would never come. Those “someday I’m going to…” chores that won’t really feel like chores anymore because they will not be crammed in between basketball practice and a parent-teacher meeting. Here it is for your reading pleasure, at least I hope it’s a pleasure. The top ten things I will do when the nest is empty:
This Fall, my wife and I are preparing for the rare parental double-double. Well, I’m preparing while my spouse is sad about the upcoming prospect. As far as I’m concerned, this is the highly coveted and rarely achieved parental twofer! My guess is this is how the parents of twins feel.
You see our last two sons are preparing to head off to college in the fall. One son spent two years studying at a junior college while the youngest is graduating from high school. By September of this year our house will include myself, my wife and our dog. I think that bears repeating; by September of this year our house will include myself, my wife and our dog. This is the culmination of our twenty-six year journey that began in our modest three bedroom home when our first of four sons was born.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to miss them in an inexplicable, confounding way. For all their inherent teen-ness, there will be a void in the house. But at least there will be two less rooms in the house I will need to avoid!
As I prepare for their impending departure, I have begun to compile a list of all that I will miss when they are off studying in some far distant county or state. To that end, here are the 10 reasons why I’m going to miss my teens:
Last week’s blog focused on the top ten joys of being a teen, see link below. The information was based on my years of raising four sons, the youngest having just turned seventeen. Granted it was not a firsthand account from an actual teen, but a well-researched compendium culled from over twenty-six cumulative years of observation. I felt it was a thorough and genuinely sound record.
Well, my second son (the outdoors-man on the right) has apparently taken umbrage at my list because, even though he has always claimed to never read my blogs, he sent me an email yesterday offering a counter-list of his own. My first reaction was, someone read my blog! Then my wife suggested I am obligated to offer equal time to my son.
So, without further ado, here is a teen rebuttal. The 10 Worst Things About Being A Teen according to my twenty-four-year-old son. (Note: #4 I find especially painful.)
The next time your eleven-year-old says they are sorry, treasure that moment because it is the last time you will hear it for nine years. The reason is simple. In their clouded, visually impaired, reality-skewed mind, they are never wrong.
It must be a joyous experience to be seventeen… it has been too long for me to properly recall. But imagine, the entire world is before you, dangling on a string. Unfortunately, your parents are the ones holding that damn string. If it weren’t for them the world, and all who inhabit it, would be so much better off.
Whenever I suffer from TMTT (too much teen time) I am reminded of my favorite quote of all time attributed to Mark Twain, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in 7 years.”
I believe that is how every teen perceives the world. They view parents exactly the way the Disney Channel portrays us in every teenage sitcom; brain addled, befuddled, incapable of coherent thought and depending entirely on the knowledge and wisdom of our teenage children to survive. So, without any additional preamble, here are the top ten joys of being a teen.
When our older sons hit teendom, my wife and I decided we had two options. We quickly ruled out secretly moving to a new location. That left us with the second alternative, getting a dog. We determined that to survive this new challenge we needed to call in the cuddle cavalry.
Since we could not find any direwolves at our local pet store, we went with the next best possibility, a Saint Bernard. Meet Scout, see blog photos. One hundred and fifty pounds of love, Scout was just the cure for whatever they could throw at us. He was a gentle giant with a mammoth heart and slobber to spare.
Whenever tensions mounted and anxiety hit its apex, there was solace to be found in Scout’s incredibly soft fur and calming presence. Even though they weren’t meant for us, it could have been the pheromones, but regardless, just having Scout nearby guaranteed some much-needed respite.
Sadly, our bond was all-to-brief, as our Scoutie succumbed to lymphoma after only 4 ½ years, but his presence in the neighborhood and beyond is the stuff of legend. It was not unusual for cars to pull over while we were walking Scout and have the driver come over just to say hello to our Saint. Whenever a young child or older person approached us during a walk, our gentle soul would get down on all fours so as not to intimidate. No one told him to, he just instinctively knew this would help alleviate their fears. (Excuse me for one minute, something is in my eye.)
As I write, the vivid memories come flooding back: the tattoo-laden truck driver who parked in front of our house and snapped a photo of Scout; the plastic bat Scout would grab in his mouth and swing as if he was batting cleanup (he was able to connect on a few pitches I threw); the swish of that amazing tail of his that resembled a feather duster; cleaning slobber off the walls after a particularly intense shake; the earth-rattling “harrumph” as he laid down by my bed in the middle of the night; and the way he rested his hefty paw on top of my hand.
In a battle of teen versus adult, there was comfort in knowing that we always had Scout in our corner. Actually he was in his corner, but we could go over to him and get some much needed comfort and fur whenever we desired. The beauty was the teens took advantage of his warmth and solace as well, knowing he would not judge, but freely give his love to whomever was in need. He was like Mother Teresa on all fours (no disrespect intended).
In the end we all benefited from his presence in our lives. He brought joy (and epic amounts of fur) into our home. He became a part of our family in a more intense way than we expected. He cured one of our sons of his fear of dogs and converted us all to “big dog people” for the rest of our lives. We provided Scout with food and lodging and in return he bestowed upon us so much more.
Scout at 12 weeks.