My wife and I are expecting.
Yup, years after the last of our five children, ages 17, 13, 11, 9 & 7 when we got married, moved out, and we finally got over the sadness of being empty-nesters…
“WooHoo! Let the party begin!”
“Ah, you want to put your pants back on? The lady next door just fainted.”
…And we began to feel comfortable handling things ourselves, like the remote controls:
“Which one works the DVD player?”
“I think it’s the black plastic one.”
“They’re all black plastic ones.”
…And making our own music selections…
“Cool, here’s one by someone called ‘Armageddon.’”
“Volume! Volume! Ahhhhhh…”
…We are about to be blessed with a brand new… teenager!
Ashley’s not actually brand new of course, we’ve known her for 18 years, and we’ve enjoyed her visits each summer and felt teary-eyed as she boarded the plane to go back to New Hampshire, shouting out those traditional last minute communication reminders to us:
“Be sure and text. See you on Facebook. We’ll iChat soon.”
“Do we know how to do any of those things?”
“I’ll look for a manual.”
This summer’s visit is different though. We don’t have to cry at the airport because Ashley doesn’t have a return ticket. She’s moving in with us so she can attend college in Santa Barbara.
“Think she knows how to change a printing cartridge?”
“I hope so, the Association Board is getting tired of having the minutes printed in magenta.”
I remember when we first started our commune…
“Witham, party of seven, your condo is ready. Witham party of seven?”
…My wife and I knew we had our hands full, so we huddled and came up with some “House Rules.” We started with the 17-year-old:
“You have a curfew. You must be home by 10.”
“Is that AM or PM?
Huddle, huddle, huddle… “PM”
“The same day?”
Huddle, huddle, huddle… “Yes.”
We also had rules about television: “No MTV until homework is done.”
“Dude, this is our homework.”
“You’re studying rap?”
Huddle, huddle, huddle… “Right. Well, maybe you should shut off the Tube for awhile, go outside and focus on the poetic beauty of nature, instead of the poetic beauty of Wu Tang.”
“It’s boring outdoors.”
We also had a list of chores: “Let’s see, whose turn is it to… Hey, where’re you all going?”
“Beauty of nature. Call us for dinner.”
We implemented kitchen rules after coming home for the umpteenth time and finding every dish, bowl, cup and glass we owned on the counter half full of coagulated after-school snacks.
I made a sign and posted it above the sink: “If you use a bowl, wash a bowl. If you use a glass, wash a glass, if you use dish…”
The next day when we got home from work we were amazed. It seemed to have worked like a charm… until we opened the fridge. Apparently they figured it was easier just to eat out of the containers as everything in the fridge had a spoon or fork sticking out of it. All the beverage containers had lip marks on them too.
Huddle, huddle, huddle… “Whataya think about plasticware?”
They grew up of course and suddenly wanted to venture forth and stretch their legs in the big yard of life:
“Can I borrow the car?”
“No, I need it.”
That’s when we began supporting an insurance company in Texas that grew quickly from a storefront operation into a full city block.
Eventually, they all moved out, and we cried. … Then they moved back in… then out… and we cried… then back in… out, cried….
Now that’s all in the past and we have entered the stage of grandparenting.
“Okay. Mommy and Daddy said you have to go to bed by eight.”
“AM or PM?”
Huddle, huddle, huddle… “PM.”
We haven’t finalized the rules for Ashley yet, but so far we are thinking: “No boys; no late nights; no loud music; limited Facebook time; and educational TV only” -- once she helps us find the correct remote.
Huddle, huddle, huddle… “She’s going to need a car to get to college.”
“One of us should call the insurance company.”
Was that a cheer from a city block in Texas?
I’ll keep you posted…